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Energy Games Offer Incentives for Energy Efficiency

By Greg Zimmerman Energy Efficiency
energy games

A few years ago at Greenbuild, I was enthralled by a presenter showing how he’d convinced occupants to help save plug load energy with a game called Energy Chickens. The idea is that an occupant has a virtual pet chicken. This pet chicken is tied to an energy-using device, like a computer or task light. When the occupant uses the device energy efficiently, the chicken is healthy. If the occupant is wasteful, the chicken gets sick and potentially dies. Nobody wanted their pet chicken to die, so they made changes to be as energy efficient as possible.

It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to understand the reason why Energy Chickens works so well: People like games. Making energy efficiency fun is much more effective than constantly harping on them to turn off their computers at night. 

And there are many more energy games out there now that range from targeting behavior-change to simply educating. The Canadian company Ingenium has a whole list of energy games on its website for kids and adults alike.

Of course, not everyone will think these energy games are fun or useful. But if they can get a few people to help shave a few kilowatt-hours, then there’s no real downside. As HVAC and lighting become more and more efficient, it’s plug loads that will make up more and more of a building’s energy profile. So attacking plug load energy use should be a top-priority goal for any facility manager. Energy games provide a fun way to do just that. 

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.


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