Wednesday, December 21, 2011

IABC Presents the Envision Charlotte Project

By  Robyn Cornwell, Behavioral Change Agent

Recently the Charlotte chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators held a forum of three participants in the Envision Charlotte Project who described their contributions in “Communication’s Role in Driving Behavioral Change”.
The three participants were;

Vincent Davis, Director of Smart Energy Now, Duke Energy
Tom Shircliff, Co-founder of Intelligent Buildings, LLC
and Darlene Heater, V.P. Neighborhood Development and Special Projects.

“Sustainable development” is the 2020 vision, added to the current “livable, memorable, viable” theme for Charlotte. To make an immediate point, a familiar shot of the city lit up at night was projected on the screen along with the message “Envision Charlotte: Changing this Picture”. One assumes that the goal is to turn off a great number of those lights. The results of their two-years of work are now being seen in kiosk installations in major buildings throughout the city.

Tapping into the latest in high technology and the cloud, the kiosks feature a real-time running display of the wattage used in all the city’s commercial buildings, purposely not singling out any one building. The point: to jump-start the Prius Effect: Making one aware of the impact of one’s actions (through feedback) leads to a positive change in those actions.

Included in the kiosk are people featured with their stories of what they are doing to contribute to reduced energy use. These “energy champions” are rewarded with an iPad, one being given out each month. 

The power of feedback is now possible for facilities managers where they can see what the energy use of a building is in real-time instead of seeing it a month later when the bill arrives. This gives them the opportunity to detect the source of an energy spike and address it immediately to make corrections or adjustments. Another inducement to behavior change is in writing lease contracts to have the tenant pay their own bill.

The project worked with $1.5 million from Duke Energy and $1 million from Verizon, using part of this to tap into the behavioral change expertise at MIT. The kiosk was designed knowing that the typical person will spend just 30 seconds viewing it, and one cannot assume that they will care. For this reason, it must be as engaging as possible while offering many different ideas on how to save energy.

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