Net Zero

The Opportunity Statement

How might we encourage and empower individuals (and groups) to adopt greener / more climate friendly behaviour?

The Problem

The ANU is seeking to reduce its carbon footprint in a bid to reach below Net Zero. In order to do this, students need to change their behaviours - which is challenging to do.

On-campus accommodation has a transient population, leaving a large carbon footprint and making long-term projects challenging.

Small tasks to reduce energy consumption, such as switching off powerboards, standby modes or lights, go unnoticed but have a big impact.

Many students are aware and motivated to change, but haven’t got the knowledge of how small behavioural changes could make a big difference.

The Solution

Starting at the dormitories, with the future to move out to the campus - the NetZero app is about creating small habits, while using social norms and education to motivate individuals and groups. The app is designed for both novice and expert, with different levels of knowledge and habit forming behaviours to choose from - from easier and less time consuming, to more difficult and lengthy.

Home Screen. Kick starting the experience with a welcoming illustration

Onboarding the user as the journey towards carbon reduction starts here

Onboarding survey to determine the ease of tasks - novice or expert. Students can form groups with friends or ask to be a part of a group

Each month, students are presented with a customised list of challenges suited to task level to choose from

Gamification is used in the form of ‘carbon credits’, which is an on-campus currency accrued when an individual meets a goal.

These credits can then be used to purchase items, such as coffee, much like a loyalty points system.

To keep students honest, machine learning is utilised to verify whether a task has been completed. By uploading a photograph, the task can be marked as completed and the credit earned, through confirmation. For example, whether a power board is switched off. Data will also be collected to see what actions the students are taking.

Dashboard displays the individual and group impact and rewards (carbon credits) accrued.

The user can also check other groups and their performance

The user start a new daily challenge

Notifications are used as reminders to complete or validate that a task has been completed

The Impact

Coupled with a number of other initiatives to educate and motivate, such as:

  • Ephemeral or transmedia storytelling

  • Digital boards showing data in real time

  • Sustainably themed activities such as festivals and markets, and

  • Engaging with the indigenous community

There should be indicators of emissions declining through overall operational costs, student and staff community motivation and engagement, and national and international recognition.

Solution architecture

Power Apps makes it super easy to put together a cross-platform app, that can still be quite sophisticated. In a matter of hours we were able to create a screen flow, connect to a database, create push notifications and train a Machine Learning model to identify a powerboard. Costing: $8 / month / user + $500 for AI component.

The architecture has been designed to allow the information to be disseminated to a range of channels. The information would be obtained from a range of sources, stored within the Azure ecosystem and via a chatbot or application programming interface (API) consumed by various channels. It would be able to provide insights on information that is regularly requested, to make informed decisions on what appliances are being accessed.