Published on August 28th, 2012 | by Deb0
In 2010 it was reported that ‘30-40 percent of all primary energy produced worldwide is used in buildings’ (Howe 2010). Despite this, the enormous impact of building related activities and systems on natural resources are often hidden from public view. Energy consumption and generation in buildings is seldom reported, and while building visitors are frequently told that switching off lights or installing solar panels have a positive impact on energy usage, the lack of context within these statements makes them poor motivators.
The scale of environmental issues is often beyond human understanding but can be mediated through ICT. Through effective information and interaction design we can provide dynamic interfaces that can bridge this gap between understanding and action by presenting data to the public in a way that contextualises energy consumption.
This paper presents the challenges and solutions to designing a persuasive eco-visualization, The ECOS Project, based on a local green buildings project in Brisbane, Australia. In particular how the project team relied on expert consultation and iterative design processes to finalise a design that presents a dramatisation of the relationship between environmental factors (climate) and energy consumption.
The ECOS Project has been developed for presentation on a large screen multi-touch interface installed in the new Science and Engineering Centre (SEC) at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The SEC features alternative energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines and an on-site gas generator, and contains a complex sensor network to track energy consumption and human use of technology. In collaboration with the SEC building managers, The ECOS Project uses the energy consumption and generation data of the actual buildings in which it is presented. This data has been incorporated into an interactive simulation, which is both engaging to users and highly informative.
The ECOS Project focuses on the principle that humans can have both a positive and negative impact on ecosystems with both local and global consequence. Its objectives are aligned with many of the core elements of effective eco-visualizations, its primary goals being encouraging playful engagement and exploration with energy and stimulating critical reflection.
Howe, J. C.(2010). Overview of Green Buildings. In: Howe, J.C. and Gerrard, M.B. (eds.) The law of green buildings: regulatory and legal issues in design, pp 3-14. US: American Bar Association and Eli Press