Behaviour Change Program
Solar Cities

Townsville City Council Citysolar – Townsville Residential Energy Demand Project (2007/12)



As part of its Citysolar program, the Townsville City Council has developed a range of initiatives to encourage and support residents to reduce energy demand in the home.

One such initiative is the 'Townsville Residential Energy Demand' (TRED) program which involves one of the most comprehensive applications of the 'Community Based Social Marketing' (CBSM) methodologies in the world, and includes elements of 'Thematic Communication'. The team from Council's 'Integrated Sustainability Services Division' has been working closely with a team of world leading researchers based at Griffith University, University of Adelaide, and QUT, to develop the CBSM based program.

As the basis of the development of TRED a detailed assessment of the CBSM methodology was undertaken based on the book ‘Fostering Sustainable Behaviour’, and attendance at workshops by the methods originator Dr Doug McKenzie-Mohr. This allowed the development of a work plan for the project that was reviewed by Dr McKenzie-Mohr before being finalised as the basis for the projects development. Please refer to the figure at the bottom of this page for a summary of the process.

1) Selection of Behaviours: The first step was the selection of behaviours that the program would focus on. This was undertaken in four stages:

- Identify Program Criteria: The aim of the program is to 'investigate ways that residents can reduce household energy demand suitable for application in Townsville, and to then explore options to assist residents in this endeavour'.

Identify Behaviours: An extensive literature review and expert panel peer review process was undertaken to identify 241 specific behaviours that could lead to a reduction in home energy consumption. Download Full Behaviour Investigation Report

- Assess and Plot Behaviours: Each of the 246 behaviours was investigated to consider the potential impact and probable likelihood, along with any program precedent, to assist the prioritisation process for program planning. Download Behaviour Assessment Report

Select Behaviours: Based on a range of factors three behaviours were selected to become part of the program: 

    a) 'Painting the roof white, or a light colour', 

    b) 'Using trees and shrubs for shading the home', and 

    c) 'Prematurely switching electric hot water systems for lower fossil-fuel energy systems'.

2) Uncover Barriers & Benefits: Once the behaviours had been selected the research team investigated the various barriers and benefits through a literature review and assessment of a range of similar programs in Australia and internationally. Following this the barriers and benefits for each of the three final behaviours were investigated through community focus groups and a community survey to ensure that the program was developed with close consideration of the Townsville community. 

Download Focus Group Specification
(Based on Morgan, D., and Krueger, R. (1998) The Focus Group Kit, Sage Press, London)

Download Community Survey Specification
(Based on Fink, A. (2006) How to Conduct Surveys: A Step-by-Step Guide (3rd Edition), Sage Publications, London)

Download Focus Group Findings Report

Download Community Survey Findings Report
3) Develop Strategy: Based on the outcomes of the research and the community engagement the team is currently designing a strategy to encourage and support Townsville residents to undertake each of the three behaviours. 

- Cool Roofs (Switching to a white or reflective roof colour): This behaviour will be the focus of the first round of community programs in 2011 that may involve a series of activities such as: development of targeted information for the community; promotion of demonstration sites; community information events, tours and workshops; industry capacity building events; and industry collaboration. The design of the program is based on the research outcomes and community engagement findings and is being developed in consultation with Townsville industry. 

- Shade Planting (Planting appropriate trees/shrubs to shade your home): In order to further develop this research Townsville City Council has become a partner of the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre.

- Low-Carbon Hot Water (Switching from an electric hot water system to a less energy consuming option): Townsville City Council is in discussion with a range of partners to consider the potential to incorporate the findings of the research and community engagement into future programs and projects.

Ergon EnergyTownsville City CouncilDelfinHoneycombesCafaloQueensland Government