Online gaming has long held the reputation of being a time-waster – especially in an office setting. But what if the activity were actually encouraged? And what if it could help your building reduce its energy use?
That’s the idea behind gamification, which refers to using the features of games to accomplish a real-world objective. It’s been proven to encourage positive behavior change, including motivating consumers to save energy.
“We think workplaces are the places to engage people because we spend so much time there and that’s a really important peer group,” says Kathy Kuntz, executive director of the nonprofit Cool Choices, which operates a sustainability game. “Typically our clients have that commitment to corporate sustainability – and often have done some pretty amazing things – but often they run into this roadblock of human behavior.”
To remedy that, Kuntz says positive reinforcement can turn energy reduction into something fun – which is especially beneficial when something like plug load is left to the building occupants.
“I’ve seen research that shows in high-performance buildings, 55 percent of the remaining energy usage is plug load,” Kuntz says. “When we’re talking about trying to get to zero energy, this becomes a really important thing.”
When things like posters or memos prove insufficient, gaming could potentially be the better solution.
Games and Apps
Games and apps, Kuntz explains, create a new paradigm by promoting something fun and challenging – and avoiding things like blaming or scolding.
Below are three examples of games for consideration in which players undertake and are rewarded for a range of energy-saving activities.
1. Cool Choices
Cool Choices has created a sustainability game and training program meant to engage business employees and pre-K through grade 12 school employees. It works with companies, schools, government organizations, nonprofits and community groups to help individual employees/students/staff members adopt more sustainable practices.
(Photo: Dashboard of the game Cool Choices. Credit: Cool Choices)
In Cool Choices’ sustainability game, ways to earn points is specific to your building’s goals. For example, you could earn 30 points for biking to work. You could also earn points for using a high-efficiency hand dryer over paper towels.
The game can also be team-based rather than individual-based.
WeSpire is an engagement platform meant to inspire employees to complete actions that minimize their carbon footprint and improve wellbeing. It began as a social game focused on sustainability, but has since adopted much wider use in areas like diversity/inclusion and health/wellbeing.
[More on gamification: 4 Tips for Encouraging Energy Efficiency]
A unique aspect of WeSpire is that companies can design, customize and measure their own positive impact “campaigns.” Employees can then record their actions and engage in friendly competition with their co-workers.
3. Shine by JouleBug
JouleBug is a mobile app that motivates you to improve sustainability habits at work and at home. For facilitywide use, Shine by JouleBug allows you to connect an unlimited number of employees, who can engage in various challenges and actions focused on sustainability, nutrition, fitness and volunteering.
Employees can log their actions and earn points or compete in new challenges each week. The app also relays tips to help make every aspect of your workplace and daily routine more sustainable.
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