In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, University of California, Berkeley, Sustainable Community Associates and the City of Oberlin, Lucid and Oberlin College have embarked on a multi-year research endeavor that aims to develop and test real-time feedback technology not only at the scale of a building or group of buildings but at the scale of an entire city community.
Supported by a grant from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the project is designed to engage, educate, motivate and empower citizens within the Great Lakes region to conserve water and energy resources. Several modes of feedback, including Building Dashboard® websites, kiosks and orbs, are being implemented to show personal resource usage and city-wide performance in real time.
Businesses and residents will be able to visualize consumption in a variety of environmental and economic currencies so that they can directly trace financial savings and greenhouse gas reductions that result from their own personal actions as well as actions taken by the community as a whole.
Lucid's collaborative research is designed to stimulate changes in knowledge, attitude and emotional connection to nature so that consumers are motivated to reduce water and electricity usage, avoid peak water use and electrical loads during summer months when demand is high, and shift the timing of their consumption in order to minimize environmental impact.
Building Dashboard is being used to convey how personal choices affect individual household costs, and how those costs impact air and water quality at local and regional levels. Lucid's cutting-edge display graphics and socially comparative resource use information enable the research team to leverage cost indicators and empathy as incentives and motivators for reducing consumption.
The team's goal: to determine which modes of information delivery are most effective at stimulating conservation and to develop approaches that can be widely adopted by individual homeowners and small business owners.
A novel component of the project involves presenting community members with real-time information on three levels of resource use.
First, Building Dashboard provides information on water and electricity consumption in individually monitored buildings, apartments and businesses. Second, a City-wide dashboard provides aggregate rates of water and electricity consumed by the entire City. Third, the City-wide dashboard also provides information on water flow and quality in the wastewater treatment plant and in Plum Creek, the stream that drains the City of Oberlin and eventually empties to Lake Erie.
The three levels of feedback are being displayed in multiple locations, including public kiosks in downtown Oberlin. The same feedback is also available to community members online.
Read about the Great Lakes Protection Fund project in depth and keep up to date on progress at oberlindashboard.org.
"Knowing when the wastewater system is near capacity or when the community's electricity use is at a peak might encourage a resident to postpone running a load of laundry or to turn down air conditioning during such times. Also, households that are monitored will be able to selectively join communities of other households to share and compare the effects of personal conservation efforts and to challenge members of their self-selected community to friendly resource reduction competitions."