SURFnet Innovatieregeling Duurzaamheid & ICT
Energy Conservation Behaviour Toolkit
Incentive Mechanisms for
effective decrease of energy consumption at the workplace
Dirk Börner, Marco Kalz, Stefaan Ternier & Marcus Specht
Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC)
P.O. Box 2960
6401 DL Heerlen
Table of Contents
Theoretical background and problems addressed
Method & Time planning
4.1 Mozilla Ope
5.2 Game elements
Discussion and Outlook
This project report summarized the results of the project “Energy Conservation Behaviour
for effective decrease of energy consumption at the workplace”
which has been funded from May 2012
November 2012 from the SURFnet Innovation grant
for sustainable ICT solutions. The work in this project has build on a first project “Energy
Making the Invisible Visible” in which several measurement and
visualization approaches have been developed to make employees more aware about energy
consumption and pro
environmental behavior at the workplace.
While awareness is a first important
step for the decrease of energy consumption and
environmental learning it is not sufficient as a means for sustainable behavior change. For this
reason we have explored in the follow
up project approaches how pro
at the workplace ca
n be encouraged, rewarded and sustained. For this purpose we have
implemented several technological solutions and we have piloted these in form of an energy
conservation game called “Mindergie” at the main campus of the Open Universiteit in Heerlen.
oject is in line with an earlier identified research gap in terms of energy conservation at
the workplace and uses state
art technologies for mobile gaming and rewarding of non
formal learning activities. The report is structured as follows: In the
next chapter we briefly
summarize the state
the art research for energy conservation at the workplace and discuss
which research gaps are targeted with our research. In the third chapter we introduce our
approach chosen. In the fourth chapter we introdu
ce the technologies used in the project.
Chapter 5 summarized the results of the Mindergie game and its evaluation. Finally, chapter 6
provides an outlook into future work.
Theoretical background and problems addressed
While energy cons
ervation in the domestic context has been sufficiently studied and evaluated,
there is only a small amount of studies focusing on energy conservation at the workplace. A
study by Siero et al. (1996) has shown that the offering of learning opportunities abo
environmental behaviour has the potential to change the attitude and behaviour of employees.
The most effective treatment in this setting was reached through a mixture of goal setting,
information distribution and feedback. Nonetheless, the workplac
e context is different from the
domestic one. A recent study by Lo, Peters, and Kok (2012) revealed that the main differences
are that the costs of energy consumption are not monitored nor paid by the employee and that
the organisation’s structure, size, g
oals etc. has an influence on individual behaviour.
Furthermore they stressed the importance to understand the psychosocial determinants of pro
environmental behaviour at the workplace, which differs from the domestic context. In
conclusion the authors pre
sented a framework consisting of individual and organisational
determinants that can influence individual behaviour at the workplace and finally identified five
factors: attitude, awareness, self
efficacy, subjective norms, and habits. Kollmuss and Agyeman
(2002) have presented a complex model of pro
environmental behaviour that integrates internal
factors such as personality traits or environmental consciousness and external factors such as
infrastructure or political context. Additionally they investigate
d and incorporated possible
barriers to pro
environmental behaviour. These barriers are mainly responsible for the gap
between attitude and action, also referred to as engagement gap. Among others the identified
barriers were lack of environmental consciou
sness and knowledge, negative or insufficient
feedback about behaviour, as well as missing internal and external incentives (see fig. 1).
We have recently conducted a study that has shown that only 25% of employees in an
academic organisation are concerne
d about the financial consequences of their individual
consumption for the organisation (Börner et al. 2012), while financial incentives are currently
one of the major driving forces in the domestic context. Besides that the surveyed employees
t they feel unaware about the organizational and individual energy consumption and
respective conservation possibilities. Thus around one third requested more detailed information
as well as clearer incentives from the employing organisation.
Figure 1. M
odel of pro
environmental behavior (Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002)
Foster et al. (2012) have approached the problem from an interaction
design perspective. In
focus group sessions with stakeholders from different levels of an organisation they have
d the problem as consisting of motivational, social, organisational, and technical issues.
Furthermore they identified a “research knowledge gap present in understanding the end
of energy in the workplace and, therefore, the design of appropriate and
energy interventions, particularly those that encompass novel ways of encouraging people to
adopt positive energy usage behaviour whilst at work.” This formulated research gap is exactly
the purpose of the project reported in this doc
The project is focusing on internal factors and external barriers of the model by Kollmuss and
Agyeman (2002), namely on the lack of knowledge and environmental consciousness and the
lack of incentives and insufficient feedback about behavior. It h
as been shown that projects that
focus only on behavioural approaches like operant conditioning, incentives or rewards are
effective in short
term but not effective in long
term energy consumption behaviour (Vining &
Ebreo, 2002). According to the authors,
the effects diminish from the moment the reward is not
given anymore. Therefore our target in the project was to combine behavioural approaches with
a motivational and social influence approach. Thus, our idea was on the one hand to combine
hological approaches with different barriers and factors in the model (see table 1).
Lack of incentives
Lack of feedback
Public displays at the
Table 1: Problems addressed and solutions
To connect the different components we have used gamification approaches and game
elements as the framework of the components. Gamification is the concept of applying game
design thinking to non
ications to make them more fun and engaging. Werbach &
Hunter (2012) differentiate between gamification approaches that focus on an organizational
benefit and approaches that focus on a personal benefit (fig. 2). Our initiative is focused on an
behaviour change with clear benefits for the organization. On the other hand there is a
secondary individual benefit of our initiative since future generations might benefit from pro
environmental behaviour that happens right now.
Figure 2. Gamificatio
n approaches (Werbach & Hunter, 2012)
Method & Time planning
The project has used existing technological solutions and has integrated them in a coherent
approach. The following tools, services and functionalities have been integrated:
A method to regi
ster specific energy conservation activities via semacodes or direct
choice on mobile devices, this enables the registration with digital and analog means in
social and individual contexts.
design collection of badges for energy conservation behaviour
based approach to provide badges for a set of activities to link also complex
behaviour patterns to badges.
use of reliable game patterns to share the most active participants, or the lowest energy
use during a workday etc. in a social environment (public
displays, intranet, social
viral marketing campaigns integrating opinion leaders and the social network of
employees to increase awareness about and recognition of energy consumption at the
To provide new insights about the institution
and to increase the environmental consciousness
of employees the data from central energy measurement units have been aggregated and
visualized to communicate energy usage patterns of the whole organization and the different
buildings in the campus.
oject was organized in 5 phases:
Requirement analysis and state of the art analysis (May, July)
Development and Design of “Energy Conservation Behaviour Toolkit” at the OU campus
in Heerlen (August & September)
Testing of the technical infrastructure and d
esign of the Mindergie Game (October)
Piloting (November & December)
Project finalization and final reporting (December)
In the next section we explain in more detail the technology used in the project.
Four technologies were involve
d in the development of a pilot: the Mozilla Open Badge
infrastructure, the ARLearn tool suite, the digital signage system Mediasignage, as well as the
portal software Liferay. Figure 3 shows the architecture for the pilot.
Figure 3. Architecture for th
e pilot putting together four technologies (Mozilla Open Badges,
ARLearn, Mediasignage, and Liferay)
4.1 Mozilla Open Badges
The Mozilla Open Badge infrastructure (OBI) has been developed to recognize learning
activities in a non
formal context (Young, 201
2). Several institutions in the US like the NASA,
the Walt Disney Company or Intel have piloted badges as a new approach for rewarding
learning and competence development of employees. The badges infrastructure differentiates
between three different roles:
Issuer: An issuer is a badge issuing organization, group or individual who uses the Open
Badge Infrastructure to allow earners to push badges from their site into the Mozilla
Backpack. Because of the Open Badge open infrastructure, it’s easy to become an
issuer: just meet the required badge specifications.
Earner: An earner is someone who collects and stores their badges within the Open
Badge Infrastructure. The OBI acts as the conduit between an issuer and an earner,
permitting an earner to earn, accept,
store, and manage badges within their Mozilla
Backpack. From there they can choose to display their badges on a variety of sites,
including blogs, social media sites, and personal websites.
Displayer: A displayer is a website, organization, group or indivi
dual that accesses
publicly shared badges from the Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) and displays them for
an earner. Badge display plays a crucial role in the Open Badges ecosystem
part of a
badge’s value resides in its usage or social currency. This is a f
actor that is affected by
where and how badges are displayed. Social networking sites, discipline
community portals, and job search sites, as well as personal sites and blogs are all
potential badge displayers.
A central element for a earner is t
he so called ‘backpack’ in which badges are stored. A
backpack is only under control of its user and after earning a badge the owner of the backpack
can decide whether to accept or deny a badge and to make it public or not. The infrastructure
to earn, collect, and share badges. The infrastructure consists of a management
interface (i.e. user’s badge backpack) as well as a specification to issue and display badges.
Figure 4. OpenBadge Infrastructure
Technically, badges are images in the PNG f
ormat PNG images containing text metadata
(keyword called open badges) as well as a URL that contains evidence that someone has
earned this badge along with additional information, e.g. the validity period and links to
information about the badge and the p
Issuing a badge is done with the Issuer API
. The badges are then published automatically or
uploaded manually to the user’s badge backpack where they can be managed and made
available to show on other websites via the Displayer API
. For user au
infrastructure makes use of Mozilla’s Persona Identity management solution
. From the
backpack of the badge earner these can be easily shared to social networks like Twitter,
Facebook or Google+ (see fig. 5).
Figure 5. Earned badge shared
ARLearn (Ternier, Klemke, Kalz, van Ulzen & Specht, in press) is a tool suite for educators and
learners supporting different phases and activities during a field trip. Learners can use
augmented reality clients to explore and an
notate real world field trip sites while teacher can
monitor the progress in real time. The ARLearn platform is intended for teachers that organize a
field trip, but can support other scenarios as well. For instance, professionals could use the app
specting a site to make notes that are synchronized with their current location. Thereby
ARLearn makes use of two distinct concepts: games and runs. A game is a blueprint for a field
trip or a mobile serious game and contains various artefacts that can be
displayed to a user.
Runs are used to deploy the game to users and play the game on mobile devices. Within the
scope of a run it is possible to manage: users, teams, and user responses.
The ARLearn tool suite mainly consists of an authoring environment a
nd a mobile application
developed for the Android platform
and making use of Google services. Within the app users
mainly use the Menu and the Back button of their phone to navigate around. They also make
use of the, GPS, built
in camera and microphone as
well as a web browser. All items of the
game appear as messages in a list, which is the main element of the ARLearn app. Some
messages open automatically while others open when users click on them. Once they opened a
message it will grey out in the list,
but stay there until the end of the game. Messages can
comprise different media, e.g. text, audio, or video. Some messages also ask users to provide
either an answer to a question, recording an audio, take a picture, or even capture a short video.
uses a simple rule
based approach that allows to define action, time, or location
dependencies for all available items. With dependencies it is possible to implement game
structures. This means e.g. that when a game starts, only the first item is visible
to a user. Next
after the first item has been read, the second item becomes visible etc. Secondly, dependencies
enable giving users feedback based on answer that were given. For instance, if a multiple
choice question defines three answer, dependencies all
ow to select which item should appear
when a user provided a specific answer.
The Digitalsignage platform
has been used to share manage content on public displays on the
campus. Through a central authoring platform campaigns have been o
rganized with the goal to
attract more people to the initiative and to become aware about the game and energy
conservation activities in the office context. While before the start of Mindergie game the
displays were used to announce the game and recruit pa
rticipants, during the game the displays
were used to show activities that participants have performed or rankings of players.
Figure 6. Mediasignage used for participant recruiting and awareness raising
Due to the flexible storing of campaigns disp
lays can be reached via a dedicated client
application to be installed or via a browser
based solution. Both are able to show dynamical
content integrated in the campaign.
) is an open source enterprise portal and collaboration software.
Within the Open Universiteit Liferay is used as a community platform and thus social
environment for all employees. Internally and externally this platform is called OpenU
is used to present, share, and discuss individual achievements in the context of the
project. The idea was to display badges on profile pages of participants and also reward certain
activities on the portal. Consequently several Liferay portlets were devel
oped. Liferay users are
able to "register" for a run in ARLearn. This allows to integrate portal activities, namely create
bookmarks, make annotations, social tagging, etc. in a ARLearn game. All these actions are
simply forwarded to ARLearn. The game may
then award badges to users, which can then
again be displayed on the individual Liferay user profile page.
In the next chapter we describe the pilot study conducted at the main campus of the Open
University of the Netherlands. This pilot study was announc
ed as the Mindergie Game
challenge to become the ‘greenest’ employee of the organisation.
All employees were asked to register for the
become the greenest employee
of the Open Universiteit. As the ga
me is based on ARLearn, the only requirement was to have
an Android smartphone or tablet available as well as own a Google account. Furthermore as the
game uses Mozilla Open Badges it was necessary to register with Mozilla to be able to keep
track of all a
ccomplishments also beyond the game. We had a limited amount of Android
devices available to borrow. After registration the participants were invited to participate for the
next 4 weeks in the weekly game rounds.
The designed game was about en
ergy consumption and conservation at the workplace. The
main purpose was to provide the users with useful information on the What, Why, and How as
well as to motivate them to get involved and committed. The game was played in weekly rounds
d certain topics. The first week started with an introduction to the game and the
technologies used to play it. The second and third week were then mainly about electricity and
respectively gas consumption and conservation at the workplace. Finally the fou
rth week dealt
with individual consumption footprints and alternative conservation strategies.
The main items that could be found in the rounds were: information, actions, and challenges. All
the items appeared in the ARLearn message list or opened automa
tically when they became
available. Each item type was noted [in brackets] in front of it's title. From time to time users
were asked to answer questions, either as part of an item or in the course of quizzes. Usually
when answering questions, read informa
tion, perform actions, or master challenges new items
appeared. Users did not have to do everything at once. They could return at any moment and
proceed with the game.
The interface of the game is shown in figure
of the Mindergie Game
During the game users could earn badges that demonstrate a skill, achievement, or quality. If
users successfully answered questions, read information, performed actions, or mastered
challenges they received a badge for that. As desc
ribed we made use of Mozilla's Open Badge
Infrastructure for the issuing of badges. So whenever users received a badge a browser window
opened, they had to sign in, and then accept the badge. When they did that, the badge was
stored in their badge backpack
To combine digital incentives with real incentives and to attract participants we have announced
weekly winners in three categories that earned prizes:
1x book voucher (Boekenbon) for the employee who collected the most information
1x activity voucher
(Gele Pluim) for the most active employee who performed all the
1x iTunes voucher for the employee who mastered all the challenges
If there was more than one employee qualified for the prize then the winner was chosen at
random. Furthermore there
was an overall prize for the best player (aka. the greenest
employee), announced and awarded after the game.
5.2 Game elements
Mindergie game consisted of several game
elements. In this part we briefly discuss the
different elements used in the game.
The information element provided the users with all the important knowledge, e.g. about the
game, energy consumption details, conservation possibilities, saving potentials etc.
As a variation of the information element videos provided t
he users with simple tips on how
to conserve energy. Thereby we made use of available topic
Action elements were used to get users active and let them do something, e.g. find
something out, save some energy, explore the campus et
c. To perform actions they had to
leave their workplace and reach different places on the campus, e.g. the game flags we
deployed in the centre of the campus. Most of the time actions combined information clues
and assignments at the same time. A sample ac
tion looked like this:
Athabasca is a rather small building on our campus, which consumed in total 1154 kWh
electricity last week and 200 kWh on average per working day.
With 256 kWh the highest electricity consumption in Athabasca was on Thursday. Last
weekend Athabasca consumed 152 kWh without anyone in the office.
Now look for the small QR code attached to the 'Chiba' flag pole and scan it.
Challenge elements invited the users to elaborate and reflect, e.g. by sharing their opinion
sonal experience etc. These items were about the users, their ideas, opinions, and
experience about them and their workplace using different kind of media. A sample
challenge looked like this:
The Mindergie game is about YOU so we would be happy to know:
What are your
reasons to participate in the game?
To do that simply press Provide Answer, record an audio statement, and publish it.
You can record more than one statement if you like. When you are finished, please go
back to the list to continue.
The activity element was introduced to allow users to register their conservation activities.
The idea was to get an impression on their habits, so they were asked to be honest and only
register activities they had really done. Following that codex they
were allowed to register as
many activities as they liked from a list that was adapted weekly to the theme of the week:
switch off appliances instead of leaving them on stand
disconnect power supply units when not in use
use multiple socket power stri
ps that can be turned off
switch off lighting when leaving a room
use appliance built
in energy saving options
This element was mainly used to assess the knowledge acquired during the game, e.g. by
reading all available information or watching the in
formation videos. Usually this element
became available only after accessing all necessary elements. The outcome was taken as
basis to issue badges.
When users demonstrated a skill, achievement, or quality during the game they were usually
with a badge. The respective element then became available and could be used
to store the earned badge in the personal backpack.
The game description for the first week’s “Introduction” run is illustrated in Figure 7. The game
starts with a welc
ome message that briefly explains the game and the goals and tasks of the
week. Arrows indicate dependencies between the single items. So when the welcome message
has been read the gameplay message appears in the list etc. There are three different item
tegories in the game, namely information, action, and challenge. Within these categories the
simple text items are represented by the document symbol. Single or multiple choice question
items are represented by octagons, while open answer items are represe
nted by pentagons
pointing downward. The open answer items can be answered by scanning a QR
recording an audio statement, taking a picture, or capturing a video. Finally each circle symbol
represents a badge that can be achieved throughout the game.
. Flowchart illustrating the items and dependencies of the “Introduction” run
A set of badges has been designed for the project. In total four types of badges were used, one
for the general gameplay and one for each category. The different types
of badges are
distinguished by form and color. Each badge is characterized by a unique symbol illustrating it’s
meaning. Furthermore each badge can have three different states or levels reaching from
bronze over silver to gold.
. Sample badges
for sharing personal experience (a) and for collecting information about
the game and the technologies used to play it (b)
. Sample badge in three different states: (a) bronze, (b) silver, and (c) gold
. Sample badges for finish
ing the first week (a) and for being an early supporter of the
At the end of the game the participants were asked to fill in a short questionnaire. In
participants (N=12) completed the questionnaire and thus provided q
feedback on the
ost questions consisted of 7
giving choices ranging from 1 (not
at all) 7 (completely).
The questionnaire contained 21 questions listed in Table 2.
Are you concerned about the amoun
t of energy you are
using at your workplace?
What is likely to make you most concerned about the
amount of energy you are using at your workplace?
Are you concerned with what you can do personally to
reduce the energy consump
tion at the OU?
Are you doing any of the following activities to reduce your
energy consumption at your workplace?
Why are you not doing more to reduce your energy
consumption at your workplace?
Are you plann
ing to take more individual actions to reduce
your energy consumption at your workplace?
To which degree can you estimate how much energy
(electricity) you use individually at your workplace?
To which degree can you estimate
how much energy (gas)
you use individually at your workplace?
Did you actively participate in the game?
Was the gamification appealing to you
Which game round(s) did you like most?
Which game eleme
nt(s) did you like most?
Did the game change your energy consumption behavior?
Which game elements had the most potential to change
your energy consumption behavior?
Did the game enhance your environmental co
Which game elements had the most potential to enhance
your environmental consciousness?
Was the information presented useful and relevant for you?
Were you satisfied with the amount of information
Were you satisfied with the granularity of the information
How satisfied were you with the game?
Please provide some feedback about the game?
Table 2: Questionnaire
the results show
that participants are highly concerned about the amount of energy
they are using at the
workplace (M = 5.42), especially regarding the environmental costs, such
environmental pollution. They are also highly concerned with what t
hey can do
personally to reduce their energy consumption at the workplace (M = 5.75) and
suggested energy saving tips. When asked why they are not doing more
to reduce their energy
consumption at their workplace the participants opted again f
more information and detailed
feedback on their personal consumption. The majority of participants is highly motivated to take
more actions to further reduce
their energy consumption at the workplace (M = 5.08).
When asked to evaluate the game the part
icipants stated that the gamification was
(M = 4.92). Overall the participants liked “active” game elements, such as
action, challenge, and
activity most. The “informational” elements, such as information
and video were less popular,
ranged in between the two. Regarding the
expected behaviour change,
participants stated that the game in general changed their
energy consumption behaviour (M =
4.25), while the information and the activity
elements were assigned with the highest potentia
do so. Regarding the
environmental consciousness, participants stated that the game enhanced
environmental consciousness (M = 4.67). In this regard the information and the video
element were assigned with the highest potential to do so. Particip
ants stated that the
game elements had a slighter higher potential to change energy consumption
compared to the “informational” elements and vice versa for enhancing the
consciousness. The badge and the prizes element were
assigned with the lowest
potential, while the potential to change the consumption
behaviour was higher compared to the
potential to enhance environmental
consciousness. All results depicting the potentials are
compiled in Table
Energy Consumption Behaviour
Table 3: Game element potentials
When asked abou
t their satisfaction with the game the majority of participants (>50%)
satisfied with the game. Also the general feedback about the game was mostly positive.
+ it was fun + I learned a lot + easy accessible + good use of a mobile device, like
code scanning, making pictures and videos
I really enjoyed the game, nice way of becoming aware of energy consumption […]
Fun and ex
iting way to learn more about reducing your ecological footprint
Game was overall quite fun […]
In any case, the main
thing is that it was fun and
well structured and organized. Without the prizes it would have been as fun as with
In conjunction with some negative points, p
articipants also came up with ideas and
suggestions on how to improve the game
players on the campus would be nice, probably also team play would be
would be even better to be more intrusive about the energy consumption, more
live analytics. It would be really nice to get feedback about typical activities like
for making one printout, make a copy, take a coffee etc. so live
tracking of energy consumption to compare the single activities and devices. That
could make a real change as I would try to reduce the top ten energy consumption
devices / actions in the off
The game was not what I expected it to be. I expected to do more wit
h the app,
more a game like app
Found it hard to combine g
ame activities in my daily work
[…] After three weeks the structure became repetitive. Also, I expected some more
innovation (e.g. In the way the QR codes were used or something) […]
Discussion and Outlook
While we have focused in the predecessor project on means for raising awareness about pro
environmental behaviour at the workplace, in this project we have
focused on the application of
gamification elements and the combination of different rewards mechanisms like badges and
prizes. An energy conservation behavior toolkit has been thus constructed with openly available
technology and a campaign has been imple
mented in form of the Mindergie game. Results of
scale pilot study show that gamification approaches are a promising method to involve
employees in pro
environmental behavior at the workplace. Interestingly, reward mechanisms in
of badges an
d prizes had the lowes
t impact on the behavior and consciousness
All game elements that
contributed to knowledge building or that have
participants in problem solving or the development of own ideas (activity, action,
more influence on pro
environmental consciousness and pro
behavior. The qualitative fee
dback has further enriched the results with proposals by
participants how to improve the involvement of participants and the scaling of the interv
The evaluation has several limitations. Due to the decision to use technology which was at the
time being only available on the Android platform we could not attract a sufficient amount of
participants. To evaluate long
term effects and the increa
se of pro
environmental behavior of
employees on a larger scale a longitudinal study would be needed that was beyond the timeline
of this project. Nonetheless, in future studies and interventions we will apply the concepts and
technologies applied and inte
in this project
with a focus on
asing knowledge building
and problem solving of employees. To provide employees with personalized energy
as requested in the results a pervasive sensor network would be needed
to be able to implement
ck loops (Goetz
in which the gap between
activities of employees and effects on consumption of the
could be made visible
lay leading to w
know social t
rap phenomena (Cross & Guyer, 1980).
This project has been partially funded by a SURFnet innovation grant for sustainable ICT
solutions and partially by the Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC) of the
Open University of t
The badges have been designed by Jeroen Storm who works as interface designer at
CELSTEC. All logos have been designed by Chris Peeters and his team at the Marketing,
Communication, and Service department of the Open University of the Neth
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