GreenSoul News is the bi-monthly newsletter for the GreenSoul Project. Each issue highlights news and updates from the project and its pilot implementations in the UK, Spain, Austria and Greece.

Greensoul Technology Rolled Out

As part of the GreenSoul pilot, researchers at Deusto University have developeda coaster and smart plug to track energy efficiency. We spoke to Diego CasadoMansilla, Research Associate at the Deusto University, on the thinking that wentbehind developing the technology. You can learn more about how the coasterworks through this short video.

(i) What was the inspiration behind the GreenSoul coaster and smart plug?

Coaster: We wanted to create an object targeted specifically for the workplace environment. So, it had to be something that could fit perfectly in an office desk without disturbing employees (users). We wanted to create something meaningful to bring awareness about energy consumption whilst being something useful for other purposes at the same time (e.g. a lamp, a pencil-holder, a USB Hub, etc.). After some sketching and brainstorming we decided to create a coaster. Finally, we wanted to provide an object visually and aesthetically appealing, while at the same time sustainable by nature.

Smart Plug: We wanted to create a power strip which is not easily available in the market currently. We needed tomeasure the energy consumption of each of the outlets of a power strip (to understand the breakdown of the wholeconsumption). We needed that to be able to understand which are the appliances behind each energy load (curve). This smart plug will be able to capture, curate and propagate the data sensed by each of the power meters.

(ii) Are the coasters being used in any of the pilots currently?

They are all deployed in the pre-pilot of the project which is the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain), as well as in Pilea (Greece). Testing is currently going on in WEIZ and ALLIA.

(iii) What do you hope to achieve from the GreenSoul pilot?

Firstly, to shed light on understanding which is the more effective channel to conveypersuasive messages that help people in their decision-making about energyconsumption. We are going to test 4 channels/scenarios: Coaster (physical object),mobile phone (app, digital asset), all together (coaster+app) and post-its (consideredas baseline). After that, we want to understand the relationship between employees and smart objects on a daily basis and see whether the interaction is maintained, or they only work in the initial weeks of the experiments (expectancy effect).

IS GAMIFICATION HERE TO STAY?

Gamification is everywhere you look – in mobile phone appsthat reward prizes for journaling seven days in a row, to officespaces designed for both the occasional chitchat and forhighly focused work. But is gamification anything morethan a fancy buzzword, destined to go the way of other overhypedtechnologies?

According to Jan Storgard, Sector Lead for Digital and Creative Industries at AngliaRuskin University, the chances of that happening are verylow, because gamification is all about how humans ‘play’ – and humans have been playing formillennia.

“A game is anything thatmakes you excited,” says Dr. Storgard. Dr. Storgard leads REACTOR, an academic-industryprogramme focusing ongamifying products and services. At present, close to 40 startups are working with Dr. Storgard’steam to see how they can incorporate gaming principlesinto their product. According to Dr. Storgard, the best gamesare the ones where you are so engrossed in the gameplay, you forget you are playing – and it this feeling of being completely‘in the flow’ that game designers try to emulate.

Gamification can also be usedin solving real world problems, say for improving the optimaluse of office space or changing how employees use office resources. One such example is the use of gamified apps to improve energy efficiency in smart buildings. The data generatedby ambient sensors could be communicated to the building occupiers using gaming techniques, making the consumer more inclined toreduce wastage of resources.

However, Dr. Storgard warnsagainst doing too much toosoon. “A lot of companies are adopting a few aspects of gamification without a scientific approach. If you wantto introduce games in your product, hire game designerswho know the scientific aspects of game play,” he adds.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Nineteen Cities Commit To Net-Zero Carbon Buildings By 2030

In August, 19 major cities — from Paris to London to New York — signed 19 cities signed the Net-Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration in London. Under the decla- ration, the mayors of these cities have committed to ensure that new buildingsoperate at net-zero carbon by 2030.

The Declaration was signed by mayors from Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Lon-don, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York City, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Tshwane, Vancouver, and Washington D.C.