Title: Energyville: A reality-game for energy conservation
Submitted by: Rajesh G. Kavasseri and Cristinel Ababei
Problem statement: Despite government and utility efforts, energy conservation programs suffer from poor end-user participation. In contrast, games on social media are immensely popular: as of January 2013, Zynga games on Facebook such as Farmville, Texas Holdem Poker have a staggering 265 million+ active users! Our idea is to develop an app that will enable game based interactions between electric utilities and individual users to improve user participation.
Solution: We propose “Energyville”, a game based on real-time electricity usage data captured with Green Button or smart metering platforms. The game opens by assigning a fixed set of “Green Points (GP)”, a Green-Index (GI), and by requiring players to pledge or set a goal (target) for their monthly or weekly energy consumption. A mobile app would keep the user informed about the progress and the likelihood of meeting the target. Players who meet or exceed the target earn GPs, which can be exchanged for “Green Cash” (GC) in the form of rebates/coupons from participating vendors. Vendors could accept GCs for green(er) products labeled by the EPA which may include for example - appliances, electronics, food service products, garden merchandise, cleaning or building supplies. Users who are falling short of the target can learn energy conservation tips from users with higher GIs in exchange for GPs. The competitive element of the game is to ensure that users actively and mindfully engage in conservation practices. Besides, competition induces users to come up with creative, clever or ingenuous solutions to meet their goals. Accumulating and sharing the most effective solutions would help build an informed community of end-users engaged in the best conservation practices.
Benefits: Consider the benefits for electric utilities if end-user participation could be aggressively scaled up via gaming. The residential sector alone accounts for ~21 % of the total energy consumption in the U.S. The benefits from having even 50% (roughly 65) out of the 132+ million estimated households actively engaged in energy conservation programs – through a gaming based environment could be tremendous!