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Green GradesCan Information Save the Earth?$

Graham Bullock

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036429

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036429.001.0001

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(p.259) Appendix II: Interview Sampling Methods

(p.259) Appendix II: Interview Sampling Methods

Source:
Green Grades
Author(s):

Graham Bullock

Publisher:
The MIT Press

For the interviews discussed in chapter 6, I selected a stratified sample of consumers and representatives from nonprofit organizations, companies, government agencies, academic institutions, and evaluation organizations. In total, I interviewed sixty-eight individuals for approximately one hour each. The interviews were conducted either in person or over the phone, depending on the location and availability of the participant. Approximately half were conducted in person and half were conducted by phone. The overall response rate for the organizational interviews was 53 percent. Interviews with organizational representatives focused on understanding the participant’s perspectives on and knowledge of different types of information-based environmental initiatives, and involved a set of both structured Likert-based questions as well as more open-ended semistructured questions. Interviews with consumers used a computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) method to explore their knowledge of these initiatives and their perceptions of the popularity and effectiveness of a specific set of eco-labels and green rating programs.

In selecting the company representatives, I limited the sample to staff working at companies in the consumer electronics sector. Given the large number of companies that exist in the United States, this sampling frame enabled me to focus on perceptions of eco-labels within one sector and the nature of effectiveness within that sector. The consumer electronics industry has a long history and wide range of eco-labels and green ratings, and provides a rich case study from which we can learn. In order to ensure a representative sample of electronics companies, I contacted companies with large, medium, and small percentages of market share across nine different product categories—televisions, cell phones, printers, personal computers, cameras, audio-visual equipment, home theater equipment, gaming (p.260) consoles, music players—as well as computer manufacturing more generally. Market share was determined by consulting reports from the Mintel Group on each of these different product categories.1 The company with the largest market share for each of these categories was contacted, as was at least one company with a small- or medium-sized market share for each category. I also contacted several retailers of electronics equipment and other companies involved in the consumer electronics supply chain (e.g., Google, Intel). In general, my objective was to contact people in these companies who were knowledgeable about both their own internal environmental programs as well as external eco-label and green rating initiatives that are relevant to the consumer electronics sector. In some cases, people I initially contacted referred me to colleagues who had more expertise in these two areas.

I was able to conduct interviews with representatives from nine of the twenty-seven companies I contacted, for a 33 percent response rate, which is comparable to or higher than that of other attitudinal and industry surveys of businesses and executives.2 Interviewees include employees at the #1 seller (at the time) of music products (Apple), the #1 seller of personal computers (Dell), the #1 seller of audio-visual equipment (Sony), the #2 computer manufacturer (IBM), the #2 seller of mobile phones (Nokia), the #1 consumer electronics retailer (BestBuy), the #4 online retailer (Office Depot), and the #6 seller of televisions (Polaroid).3 The full list of companies contacted and interviewed is provided in table 9.1.

I also interviewed individuals working at organizations who are implementing eco-label or green rating initiatives related to the electronics sector. I identified these organizations by searching the EEPAC Dataset, which includes twelve programs directly related to consumer electronics. I attempted to contact individuals with leadership roles in these programs and who are most likely to be aware of their histories and operations. I was able to interview individuals at nine of these organizations, for a 75 percent response rate. Those interviewed were typically either at the Vice President or Director level in larger organizations, or at the Executive Director level at smaller organizations. They included individuals involved with the implementation of 80Plus, ENERGY STAR, the SVTC Computer Report Card, Climate Savers Computing Initiative, EPEAT, Greener Electronics Guide (by Greenpeace), TV Recycling Report Card, TCO Certified, (p.261)

Table 9.1 Company sample

Company

Location

Contacted

Interviewed

Apple

Cupertino, CA

Yes

Yes

Best Buy

Richfield, MN

Yes

Yes

Dell

Austin, TX

Yes

Yes

IBM

Tampa, FL

Yes

Yes

Nokia

Finland

Yes

Yes

Office Depot

Boca Raton, FL

Yes

Yes

Polaroid

Somerset, NJ

Yes

Yes

Sony

San Diego, CA

Yes

Yes

Bose

-

Yes

No

Canon

-

Yes

No

Dell

-

Yes

No

Eastman Kodak

-

Yes

No

Epson

-

Yes

No

Google

-

Yes

No

Harman

-

Yes

No

Hewlett-Packard

-

Yes

No

Intel

-

Yes

No

Lexmark

-

Yes

No

Microsoft

-

Yes

No

Motorola

-

Yes

No

Nikon

-

Yes

No

Panasonic

-

Yes

No

Philips

-

Yes

No

Pioneer

-

Yes

No

Samsung

-

Yes

No

Toshiba

-

Yes

No

Vizio

-

Yes

No

(p.262) and GREEN-SPECS. A list of the organizations contacted and interviewed is provided in table 9.2.

For the other stakeholder groups, I did not limit my sampling to the electronics sector, primarily because not as many individuals in these groups are exclusively focused on electronics. In selecting government representatives to contact, I first identified a range of federal agencies and congressional agencies that do work relevant to eco-labels and environmental governance. These included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), U.S. Government Accountability Office

Table 9.2 Rating organization sample

Eco-label/Rating program

Implementing organization

Location

Contacted

Interviewed

80Plus

Ecos Consulting

Portland, OR

Yes

Yes

Climate Savers Computing Initiative

Climate Savers Computing Initiative

San Jose, CA

Yes

Yes

Computer Report Card

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

San Jose, CA

Yes

Yes

ENERGY STAR

EPA

Washington, DC

Yes

Yes

EPEAT

Green Electronics Council

Portland, OR

Yes

Yes

Greener Electronics Guide

Greenpeace

Oakland, CA

Yes

Yes

GREEN-SPECS

Greenelectronics.com

Seattle, WA

Yes

Yes

TCO Certified

TCO Development

Chicago, IL

Yes

Yes

TV Recycling Scorecard

Computer TakeBack Coalition

San Jose, CA

Yes

Yes

Eco-Highlights Label

Hewlett-Packard

-

Yes

No

Green IT

Fujitsu

-

Yes

No

The Eco

ECMA

-

Yes

No

Declaration (ECMA 370)

International

(p.263) (GAO), U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Office, which had recently indicated interest in creating a national eco-label. I did not contact any state or local officials, although they would be interesting to include in future research. I sought to contact a balance of regulators, analysts, program managers, and higher-level administrators to solicit a diverse range of opinions. I aimed to speak with people who are both directly involved in managing eco-labels implemented by the government as well as with people who are more generally involved in environmental regulation or analysis. I also wanted to include a balance of participants with and without experience with the electronics sector.

In total, I contacted thirty-eight people across the three branches of government, three agencies in the executive branch, and seven main offices within those agencies. I received responses and was able to conduct interviews with sixteen of these individuals (for a 42 percent response rate). These included individuals representing one congressional agency (the GAO) and three executive agencies (the EPA, FTC, and DOE). They included six individuals who have been involved in implementing specific government-supported eco-labels or recognition programs (e.g., EPEAT, Indoor Air Quality, Responsible Appliance Disposal, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, Climate Leaders), five individuals focused on more general program planning and strategic analysis, three individuals with broader administrative responsibilities, and two individuals responsible for enforcing specific regulations and laws. At least five of the participants have extensive experience with environmental issues in the electronics sector. Four interviewees have office director-level status, three have division director-status, three have program chief or coordinator status, and seven work on specific programs. The list of the agencies and offices contacted and interviewed is provided in table 9.3. I contacted a larger number of staff in EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation because it has a larger number of eco-label and rating programs, although the number of people interviewed within that office is comparable to those from other offices.

I also selected a sample of representatives from environmental nonprofit organizations to explore their opinions about the effects and effectiveness of certifications and ratings in the environmental arena. Since these individuals as a group were meant to represent the diversity of attitudes in the NGO community toward these programs, I sought to include a balance of (p.264)

Table 9.3 Government agency sample

Agency

Office

Contacted

Interviewed

DOE

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

3

2

EPA

Office of Administration and Resource Management

1

1

Office of Air and Radiation

11

3

Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

6

4

Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

5

1

Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response

5

3

FTC

Bureau of Consumer Protection

1

1

GAO

Natural Resources and Environment

2

1

U.S. Senate

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

2

0

White House

Council on Environmental Quality

2

0

Total

38

16

representatives from both well-known and less well-known organizations focusing on a range of different environmental issues, including toxics, biodiversity, climate change, general environmental concerns, and consumer concerns. I also aimed to include both advocacy organizations and organizations more focused on environmental research and analysis. Similar to my criteria for my government sampling frame, I sought a balance of people with and without direct experience creating or analyzing eco-labels or ratings. And given my focus on the electronics sector, I wanted to recruit both individuals who have worked extensively on environmental issues in that sector as well as those with more general experience relevant to other sectors.

I therefore first compiled lists of the most reputable, richest (in terms of amount of donations), and largest (in terms of membership) nonprofit organizations from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP),4 the Public Broadcasting Service,5 and U.S. News and World Report.6 I also identified nonprofits working on electronics environmental and consumer issues from different alliance websites (e.g., the Computer TakeBack Coalition), and I identified nonprofits involved in eco-label and rating programs using (p.265) my database of eco-label and rating programs (discussed in chapter 3). I then created a master list of these nonprofits and categorized the listed nonprofits on the list by their general area of focus.

To select the final sample of organizations, I first identified three organizations from each area of focus, one of which had an electronics focus, one with eco-label/rating experience but no specific focus on electronics, and one with no electronics or eco-label/rating experience. Six additional organizations with a general focus and three with a focus on toxics were selected (with the same distribution of types), given their relevance to the electronics sector. In selecting this sample, I included a balance of large and small nonprofits—“large” being measured by whether they are one of the most reputable, richest, and/or largest organizations listed previously. Where there was more than one option per type of organization, organizations were selected first by excluding any that have a regional/local/non-U.S. or non-environment focus, and then selecting randomly from those remaining.

This process resulted in a sample of twenty-five organizations to contact, twelve of which are “small” and thirteen of which are “large” (i.e., on at least one of the most reputable, richest, or largest lists). Nine are associated with a nonelectronics specific eco-label or rating program, eight are associated with an electronics eco-label or rating, and eight are not associated with any eco-labels or ratings. The original sample includes the richest organization, five of the top twelve most respected (as rated by AIP), and six of the top twenty largest (by membership size). The sample also includes eight organizations with a general focus, five with a health and toxics focus, four with a research focus, three with a biodiversity focus, three with a climate focus, and two with a consumer focus.

I was able to interview individuals at ten of these nonprofit organizations. These included two organizations with a climate focus (Climate Counts and the Climate Conservancy), two with a focus on environmental health (Center for Environmental Health and Center for Health, Environment, and Justice), one with a focus on biodiversity (Rainforest Alliance), two with a more general environmental focus (Union of Concerned Scientists and EarthJustice), two with a focus on research (World Resources Institute and the Keystone Center), and one with a consumer advocacy focus (Consumer Federation of America). Four of the ten are on the most reputable, richest, and/or largest lists of environmental organizations, four (p.266) have done work related specifically to the electronics sector, four have done work related to eco-labels more generally, and two have not done any specific work related to either electronics or eco-labels. Table 9.4 shows the list of organizations contacted and interviewed.

I used a similar stratification method for selecting my sample of academic experts. I categorized these experts in terms of their type of expertise and whether they have conducted specific research on electronics or have been involved in the design of any eco-labels. I then randomly contacted a representative subset of these individuals, and was able to conduct interviews with twelve of them (for a 75 percent response rate), six of whom have conducted research on electronics and five of whom have been involved in the design of a specific eco-label or green rating. Four have backgrounds in engineering, three have backgrounds in economics,

Table 9.4 Nonprofit organization sample

Organization

Location

Contacted

Interviewed

Center for Environmental Health

Oakland, CA

Yes

Yes

Center for Health, Environment and Justice

Falls Church, VA

Yes

Yes

Climate Conservancy

Palo Alto, CA

Yes

Yes

Climate Counts

Manchester, NH

Yes

Yes

Consumer Federation of America

Washington, DC

Yes

Yes

EarthJustice

New York, NY

Yes

Yes

Keystone Center

Keystone, CO

Yes

Yes

Rainforest Alliance

New York, NY

Yes

Yes

Union of Concerned Scientists

Berkeley, CA

Yes

Yes

World Resources Institute

Washington, DC

Yes

Yes

Alliance for Climate Protection

-

Yes

No

Clean Production Action

-

Yes

No

Clean Water Action

-

Yes

No

Consumers Union

-

Yes

No

Earth Island Institute

-

Yes

No

Environmental Defense

-

Yes

No

Natural Resources Defense Council

-

Yes

No

Resources for the Future

-

Yes

No

World Wildlife Fund

-

Yes

No

(p.267) three have backgrounds in political science, public policy, or planning, and two have backgrounds in marketing or management. They come from academic institutions that include Arizona State University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, San Jose State University, Michigan Technological University, Ohio State University, University of Maine, Baruch College, Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, Yale University, and Duke University. The fields and academic institutions of the individuals contacted and interviewed are listed in table 9.5.

I also selected a sample of consumers to interview using a stratified random sampling method. I first identified interested subjects using the UC Berkeley Psychology Department’s Research Subject Volunteer Program (RSVP) list of prescreened and prequalified volunteer subjects, which includes more than 1,700 people from around the Bay Area (65 percent

Table 9.5 Academic expert sample

Institution

Field

Contacted

Interviewed

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Engineering

Yes

Yes

San Jose State University

Planning

Yes

Yes

Arizona State University

Engineering

Yes

Yes

Michigan Technological University

Economics

Yes

Yes

Ohio State University

Economics

Yes

Yes

University of Maine

Economics

Yes

Yes

Baruch College/CUNY Zichlin School of Business

Marketing

Yes

Yes

Harvard Kennedy School

Policy

Yes

Yes

Georgia Institute of Technology

Engineering

Yes

Yes

University of California, Berkeley

Engineering

Yes

Yes

Duke University

Management

Yes

Yes

Yale University

Political Science

Yes

Yes

University of Arkansas

Engineering

Yes

No

Carnegie Mellon University

Engineering

Yes

No

Harvard Business School

Business

Yes

No

Arizona State University

Engineering

Yes

No

(p.268)

Table 9.6 Consumer sample

Participant

Gender

Age

Education

Green

1

Female

<40

College degree

Less “green”

2

Female

<40

Graduate degree

More “green”

3

Female

<40

In college

Less “green”

4

Female

40 or older

College degree

More “green”

5

Female

40 or older

College degree

More “green”

6

Female

40 or older

High school degree

Less “green”

7

Male

<40

Graduate degree

Less “green”

8

Male

<40

In college

More “green”

9

Male

40 or older

College degree

More “green”

10

Male

40 or older

Graduate degree

More “green”

11

Male

40 or older

High school degree

Less “green”

12

Male

40 or older

High school degree

More “green”

are not affiliated with UC Berkeley).7 These potential subjects were asked to fill out a pre-interview survey that identified their age, gender, educational level, race/ethnicity, and levels of “green” or environmental interest. Responses from this screening process were used to select a random sample of twelve consumers, stratified by gender, age, educational level, and environmental activism. The final sample, shown in table 9.6, included six men and six women, seven aged 40 or older individuals and five under 40, seven relatively “green” and five relatively “not green,” and three high school-educated, two in college, four college-educated, and three graduate school-educated.