Evaluating the Effectiveness of a School-Based Intervention on Driving-Related Carbon Emissions Using Real-Time Transportation Data

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Evaluating the Effectiveness of a School-Based Intervention on Driving-Related Carbon Emissions Using Real-Time Transportation Data


The development of tools that can measure the efficiency of individual driving behaviors offers unique opportunities to encourage drivers towards more efficient driving behaviors. As states make progress towards reducing carbon emissions through the adoption of renewable energy for electricity generation, transportation remains the largest sources of carbon emissions. Although numerous local or regional campaigns have encouraged consumers to conserve energy at home and at work, less interest has been shown in encouraging drivers to adopt more energy efficient driving behaviors. In this study, a smartphone application was used to gather driving data (e.g., hard accelerations, hard braking and time over speed limit) within a university course on climate change to investigate whether environmental appeals could encourage more efficient driving behavior in students. The results show that through this intervention, average student driving scores improved by between 2 and 5% in the classes studied, with larger changes found in students who did not initially identify as having pro-environmental attitudes. These results suggest that educational programs and campaigns using real-time data on driving behavior may provide opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.

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Eugene Cordero has been in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at SJSU for 16 years, and is also the founder of the Green Ninja initiative. Eugene’s earlier research focused on the atmospheric variations associated with global climate change both in models and observations. More recently, Eugene shifted his focus towards solutions to climate change and this has yielded a collection of educational materials (i.e., curriculum, videos, games) that promote pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors in youth. Green Ninja, a university research group and a commercial enterprise in K-12 education, provides a platform where the results of research-based activities can be disseminated into schools to support teachers and their students. Eugene has built a strong team of researchers, educators, artists and practitioners who together share a vision of a more sustainable future through science and education. Eugene’s educational activities have been primarily supported by NSF and NASA, but he has also secured support from local government (e.g., City of San Jose) and from private companies (e.g., World Centric).


Diana Centeno obtained her master’s degree in Meteorology from SJSU’s Department of Meteorology and Climate Science. Diana’s research expertise is in weather, climate and tropical cyclones. Diana has been a lecturer in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science for the last three years, and she has been a curriculum developer and researcher for the Green Ninja initiative for the last four years. At Green Ninja, she works to support teachers with materials about climate science and climate solutions through the development of educational curriculum. Diana also works as a researcher to help analyze the role of education on carbon emissions and student attitudes and behavior. 

July 2019
Greenhouse gases
Mobile applications
Climate change



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