e-Genie: saving energy in the workplace

Alexa

Alexa Spence is Assistant Professor (Faculty of Science) at the University of the Nottingham

Last month the Creating the Energy for Change (C-tech) team successfully launched e-Genie, a tool for promoting energy saving in the workplace at the Digital Catapult Centre. Alexa Spence, Assistant Professor (Faculty of Science) at the University of the Nottingham, explains more.

Most people want to save energy. I mean, being wasteful is not generally liked, whether this be for environmental or financial reasons. However, while people tend to want to save energy, it doesn’t always happen – we are all pretty busy, especially at work where we are usually focused on things other than energy use.

The e-Genie tool is now installed at the Digital Catapult Centre to promote energy saving behaviour

e-Genie is now installed at the Digital Catapult Centre to promote energy saving behaviour

The e-Genie tool therefore focuses on transforming good intentions into actions. The tool’s section on individual behaviour change supports people in planning where, when, and how they will change their behaviour. This will encourage energy saving behaviour to actually happen and for more sustainable habits to form.

Individual actions can make a difference – if we all take action it adds up to a lot. If we turn everything we use off at night for example, the baseload energy use of a building will reduce so we can make huge savings, just by remembering to do this at the end of the day. Check it out with the ‘Always On’ section of the e-Genie tool, which illustrates the overnight baseload energy of the Digital Catapult Centre and compares it to the previous night’s usage.

Alexa launched e-Genie at a recent ‘Lunch and Learn’ session at the Digital Catapult Centre

Alexa launched e-Genie at a recent ‘Lunch and Learn’ session at the Digital Catapult Centre

We reckon that collective changes can lead to big savings. Many appliances and processes in a workplace building are shared; you might notice that something could be done more efficiently or that an appliance that is always on might not need to be.

It is hard to act autonomously (without asking or telling others), so e-Genie supports this process, helping you help others in being more energy efficient. Do you still need that extra mini fridge that’s always switched on? Could some essential equipment be automated with plug timers? Does someone switch the printer off at night, or do we all assume that someone else does it?

Try out e-Genie when you next visit the Digital Catapult Centre

Try out e-Genie when you next visit the Digital Catapult Centre

Many potential energy saving actions in the workplace require you to check things with other people; possibly people you don’t know, or for things that you’re not sure if anyone has responsibility for. e-Genie is designed to help that discussion happen; to shout out to colleagues about any issues that you have noticed. Most people want to save energy, but may just not have thought about it or have considered an alternative – as already noted we are all pretty busy.

Importantly, e-Genie allows you to see if actions work, by providing real-time electricity and temperature data. Try turning things off and see if it makes a difference!

See e-Genie.co.uk to access the installation (note some information is available only internally inside the building for privacy reasons) and energyforchange.ac.uk for more about the whole project. If you’re at the Digital Catapult Centre, please do have a play and help make it a success in terms of increasing energy efficiency!

To submit any comments or suggestions, please contact me at alexa.spence@nottingham.ac.uk.

Alexa Spence is Assistant Professor (Faculty of Science) at the University of Nottingham.

Find out more about C-tech and e-Genie, a project conducted by the University of Nottingham’s C-tech, Southampton University and the Centre for Sustainable Energy, on their website. For more Digital Catapult news, you can follow us on Twitter @DigiCatapult.

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