UBC Undergraduate Research

Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia New Student Union Energy Dashboard Project Chan, Collyn


The Alma Mater Society of UBC (AMS) is currently in the construction phase of the New Student Union Building (SUB). The design for the building aims to achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status, their highest green building rating. One required feature the society is looking to implement is a consumption feedback tool to engage occupants of the building through an energy dashboard. This report assesses techniques that should be utilized for energy dashboards to assist in promoting sustainable behaviours targeted by the AMS within the building. Based on a literature review, I assessed several dashboard designs already available in the industry as well as the challenges faced by these interfaces. After, community based social marketing and digital communications strategies were identified as criteria for the design of the dashboard for the new AMS building. I then analyzed other factors of behaviour change needed to achieve objectives identified by the AMS that a typical building dashboard would not usually accommodate. As requested by the AMS, consultations with relevant stakeholders were held to establish a recommendation for the appropriate technologies needed to move forward. The positive behavioural effects of existing energy dashboards dwindle over time (Hargreaves et al., 2010). Existing energy dashboards need additional motivators in order to establish sustainable behaviours in a building such as the New SUB. Effective communication is an important aspect of promoting sustainable behaviours and the building dashboard must adhere to digital communication strategies in addition to its role as a consumption feedback tool. However, studies show that sustainable behaviours are best motivated when one is immersed in a culture of environmental stewardship. The AMS must establish this culture within the building, in which energy dashboards will only play a part. Due to the scope of the initial project, which focused on the design of the dashboard system, recommendations for establishing social norms are limited. I recommend that further study be conducted in this area to establish the best combination of communication and social programming within the New SUB. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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