People make up one of the most important factors affecting a building’s consumption: recent studies, for example, showed that when the occupants of a building see the building’s energy monitors on a daily basis, they tend to behave more efficiently, leading that building to exhibit larger savings over time compared to others of similar size and characteristics. One implication of such findings is to question then whether solely technological solutions (such as energy monitors) are sufficient to produce the desired results. Another, if we also take into account that different people react in different ways to the same stimuli, is to ask ourselves whether the cookie-cutter home and business energy monitoring solutions available today are as effective as they ought to be.
Intelen has been researching ways to positively affect a building’s users’ energy relevant behavior for a while now, focusing on the energy efficiency, advanced behavioral analytics and environmental awareness aspects of it. To better analyze and map human behaviors relating to building consumptions, we are correlating human behavioral inputs with energy consumption as well as with other building metadata and environmental factors such as weather information. Analyzing this information using behavioral science models, we can then create a system that can assess, predict and ultimately influence users’ behavior, by learning users’ preferences and patterns of behavior and optimizing relevant content to their specific needs, so that it can have a maximum impact. To that end, gamification is being used, through web, mobile apps and social networks.
All these parameters are combined into BiG, Intelen’s engagement platform, a cloud based solution that allows for the engagement of a building’s occupants into a greener, more efficient behavior. BiG uses three important components of modern engagement and behavioral theory: visualization of building consumption and savings (over meters or utility bills), real-time metrics of human behavioral change and its impact to the real building consumption and gamification and behavioral learning concepts to provide incentives to people to engage with educational and training initiatives, expand their knowledge, take up sustainability commitments and ultimately have a positive impact on the building’s energy consumption. Backed by powerful back-end behavioral analytics, the platform can identify trends and give fruitful information on how people act, behave over time, learn, adapt, change their attitude and motivation as well as the actual impact of the anticipated behavioral change on a building’s consumption.
So far Intelen BiG has had some impressive results: during the first two weeks of usage in select major U.S. universities, student engagement to efficiency related issues has risen more than 15%, a metric indicating the participants’ strong propensity to change their behaviors, adapt new ones and take up efficiency related commitments. While the pilot phase is still running, totals, as well as their sustainability regarding energy consumption reduction are yet to be finalized, but so far the results seem very promising.
It seems therefore that there is a solution to the sustained energy efficiency equation: it is one that not only takes into account human behavior; it puts it in the center of its approach, examining it closely and finding effective, long lasting and tailor made ways to modify it. As our research and BiG beta testing continue, stay tuned for more results and insights on how sustained energy consumption reduction can be achieved!
Dr. Vassilis Nikolopoulos,
CEO and co-founder