Category Archives: Uncategorized

Welcome Microsoft!

hohm

After Google’s powermeter, here comes Microsoft with Hohm! Hohm is a recommendation engine that will provide increasingly more accurate and relevant suggestions for energy conservation as its users contribute with home energy input and feedback.

Definitely, a very useful feature for people to conserve energy. After my experiment, Act React!, I conclude that regular energy meters are too primitive to help consumers save energy. They don’t provide data in a longterm view, so people cannot understand why one day the consumption is high,and why another is low. Furthermore, people don’t have a benchmark to compare their consumption. With Hohm, I assume that the users will be able to compare with similar houses, in order to understand the level of their consumption.

One of the concepts that people in my sessions recommended was that of an energy-audit. An energy specialist comes to your house, inspects it, and give you recommendations about what to improve, how, what steps to take next, whom to visit etc. Something very similar with what Hohm will do, but without the human aspect. An Energy-audit is a practice that starts to be widely used by energy companies providing an extra service, by sustainable centers and more…I like this direction and I believe there are much more opportunities to enhance it, and provide a service where people are more involved, can start understand energy and develop their own mental models about how electricity is consumed/saved.

For more information about Microsoft Hohm’s look at Wired’s article

p.s thanks bro for updating me ๐Ÿ˜‰

Moonlight received a design award for a second time!

We just returned from beautiful Porto, being awarded for the Feel the Planet Earth CIFIAL design award!!!

The award was nominated to our team “Lumen“, for the design of the Moonlight. A solar-powered LED lantern, we designed last year in Cambodia for the rural population of the country. The lantern was designed for Kamworks, a company specialized in providing affordable energy systems in Cambodia. This is the second timeย  Moonlight is awarded, after the Toonvantuijl design prize at the Dutch Design Awards.

We all hope that the third prize, and most important, will come from the people; now that the Moonlight is coming to the market ๐Ÿ˜‰

p.s I: credits to Duygu for the beautiful photos

p.s II: Ana Maria,the fourth Lumen, was unfortunately in Colombia and could not join us

p.s III: A team from the Royal College of Art London and Imperial won also a prize, for a very smart air conditioning system “Artica” that uses only 10% of the energy that is required by conventional systems.

Objectified

As I’m busy transcribing and analyzing my first session with my participants, I thought to feed you with a nice trailer about Objectified, the new movie by Gary Hustwit, director also of the Helvetica.

For more, just check the movie’s website http://www.objectifiedfilm.com/

The Perspectivity Game

perspectivity

During a very nice sailing trip to Friesland with O2nederlands, we had the chance to play the perspectivity game.

A board game, where six players (countries) try to grow and have the biggest revenues in 10 rounds, using the available resources on the board (planet). The countries can grow by building ordinary, polluting factories or renewable ones that cost more to build and bring the same revenues as the ordinary ones.ย  If there is a lot of pollution then catastrophes start causing a lot of damages to your factories, which means more cost to the players as well. Hence, the first dilemma that arises is to be green or not to be green? Players start to negotiate about the level of emissions that should be allowed on the planet in order to avoid future catastrophes…Moreover, there are some blocks on the board that give you the double production if you place a factory there…but they are limited…so, everyone wants them! How can you solve these conflicts, with your neighbor countries?

The Perspectivity Game is a very nice game, empowering dialogue to discuss possible future scenarios for the world. By playing it, you can see people going for the biggest revenues no matter the cost, idealists building only renewable factories, and a world ready to clash in every moment.

In the end of the game, we ended up having a high score on the game, but in a weird manner. Half of the world was polluting, and had slighter bigger revenues, and the other half was green but a little bit less productive. Hence, the winners were the ones that polluted the world the most :S Something that accounts to reality, but should not be taught in schools (as the developers of the game hope for) if we are aiming towards a better future. I think it’s time to think further than revenues alone,ย  and integrate values in our economy as well.

What matters is not only the win, but also the way the win comes…and at least for me should always be with Style!

p.s thanks to G.Lo for the great photos ๐Ÿ˜‰

Demolition is no option!

I attended yesterday the lecture from architect Anke van Hal,”Demolition is no option!”.ย  The title attracted my attention as I also believe that demolition is by nature an unsustainable action, requiring much more resources, and should be the last resort when no other alternatives are viable.ย  Anke van Hal proposed two ways for the transformation of buildings; “Stripping” and “Pimping”.

The first is a laborious and costly process, requiring people to move out of their homes for as long as the transformation lasts. Examples of “Stripping” are: Complex50 in Amsterdam, Sleephellingstraat and Wallisblok in Rotterdam. The last one sounded as a very nice story, of how a “rotten tooth” became the pride of a forgotten neighborhood.

Pimping, on the other hand, lasts only a few days thus people can get vouchers to stay in a hotel for a few days without having to move out. Examples of “Pimping” are: flatfuture by 2012 Architecten, the building of Genzyme in Cambridge inspired by the building of Alterra in Wageningen, the Tour Bois le pretre, and the Rugzakbadkamer. The Rugzakbadkamer, which means Bathroom in a backpack, is a real pimping solution as it is a prefabricated piece that can be added on an exhisting housing. This kind of solutions sound as attractive alternatives for building constructors, as they cost a little (after developed, and mass produced), as well as for people who don’t have to move out.

Let’s hope that more and more altervatives will be developed, making demolition an obsolete, non-viable solution in the future…

Boys like toys

One group of my participants is consisted mainly from women. When I presented my project and the small experiment “Act Re.Act!” to them, they were very enthusiastic with the booklets , but not so much with the energy meter. Last Monday I presented the project to two other participants, thit time men. They were interested in the project, but when I installed the energy meter for them, then was the happiest moment for them! Switching on/off appliances, checking the energy meter, making jokes to each other about the energy they consume, competing and above all having fun!Obviously, boys like toys (and girls like people?!)

Act Re.Act!

dont-just-sit-title

Finally “Act Re.Act!” started! A few words about my experiment… I give an energy-meter (the Wattcher) and a workbook to the participants (see post: design probes), and for 3 weeks they document their experience. The participants come from two different neighborhoods, as I am interested in how neighbors can learn from each other. The themes I’m exploring are: awareness, adoption and social learning. How people learn and get aware about the energy they consume? How do people welcome an intervention like an energy meter? How does social learning work? After the 3 weeks, we will have a workshop all together, discuss about the experience, the frustrations, the rewards etc. and in the end conceptualize about solutions.

Of course, 3 weeks is not enough time to get “valid”, “scientific” measurements and results. However, it’s more than enough to get insights on the users’ lives, and a lot of inspiration for ideation. I can’t wait for the results ๐Ÿ™‚