Currently viewing the tag: "Sustainability"

Folks. Folks. Folks. Folks…. I built an Android app!

Again, I’m designing for simplicity and for a focus on user experience, as well as trying to solve the problems that people in the industry are concerned about. This translates to 1) something that communicates at a glance 2) time-of-use prices for electricity consumption in Ontario (how expensive your electricity is now). So, I created an Android widget that sits on your homescreen and shows time-of-use through stop light colours. Red, Yellow, Green. Doesn’t take up much room. It’s that simple. It will end up looking like this:

Yup, just that tiny little lighting bolt.

I’d love it if you would consider testing it. Let me know how it goes:

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I’ve thought a lot about where the environmental movement is stalling the most, and where I can help. Toronto has a good number of hard-working and earnest environmental charities and NGOs. But I’ve noticed that their messages are often communicated in similar ways that don’t necessarily draw people in the way they need to. So, I’m going to start writing a little on existing communications and marketing campaigns and websites of Toronto environmental NGOs and charities.

Why do I want to do this? Because these organizations work so hard, and when they decide to tell everyone about that hard work so that they can get more support (in the form of donations, petition signatures, etc) they do it in a way that doesn’t necessarily increase their reach and pull with people because they aren’t using best practices.

This is not their fault. There is a reason why these organizations usually have communications positions, because the way something is said is as important as what is said. Communications has a lot of best practices pulling from behavioural psych, environmental psych, marketing, and modern specialties like user experience, among others. It’s a lot to juggle, but absolutely worth it. Expect posts soon.

I’ve been developing a couple apps that work with Ontario’s new Green Button API roll out, which will consist of multiple utilities across the province securely allowing third party software to interact with a homeowner’s residential electricity consumption data. What it means to the average person is soon you will have a lot of fancy apps available to you that will visualize and explain your own electricity consumption. Neat!

Of course, I want to see the most possible people and groups make use of this fancy new tool. So, I made the code I wrote to connect with the API available for free at [ ]. This code is an extension for PHP’s Codeigniter framework. If you are trying to develop a tool yourself (in any language) and you’d like help, let me know!

So, I competed in the MaRS Energy Hackathon over the weekend. I was fortunate enough to form a team with Lucy Lin and Erich Welz, and we were fortunate enough to be awarded the Pivot Design Group UX Award!

Our project came out of some really great preliminary discussions Lucy, Erich, and I had about communicating sustainability to the public. The product, Energy Tipper, simplified Green Button data to the average person by engaging people with humor and not bombarding them with numbers and figures. I loved this project because we made some very concrete contributions on strategies to reach people who are tired of hearing about energy efficiency and climate change. Communicating sustainability to the public requires new ideas that really account for the way people work, and I think we came up with a great idea.

Energy Tipper is a mobile application that 1) tells the homeowner whether this is a bad time or good time to use electricity based on utility electricity prices 2) gives them a mischievous tip as part of a meme graphic based on the previous day’s energy consumption for their house. Some example screenshots and tips:

Of course, we will not be using poor Steve in the actual app, as he does not belong to us. Look out for a release to the public on iPhone, hopefully some time in December!

Check out the other projects that came out of event (which all were pretty great) here.

I was lucky enough to participate in the Stockholm Green Hackathon on October 19! The event was put together by Jorge Zapico and Hannes Ebner of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Here is a pretty good read-through of all the projects.I didn’t win, but I was involved in the making of Social Impact of Supply Chains and SourceQuest. I met some really clever, amazing people that are going to do wonders with their sustainability hacks. Everyone’s idea were truly great, and James Smith (from AMEE) has gotten some well-deserved attention for his clever Minecraft hack to include emissions and climate change.

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