I have found a new addiction – the on-line dashboard for the solar generation unit on our home. It is fascinating to be able to track how much energy we are capturing from the sun and using in our home.
And to think that the energy from the sun is basically free…unlike the vast amounts of money needed to extract fossil fuels from the earth. The other thing I love is being able to see, in real-time, the impact on energy use from turning on different appliances. In fact I have become a bit obsessed with checking out the dashboard to see when my kids turn on the TV and Playstation after school rather than doing their homework.
The issue of solar as well as using data to drive sustainable behaviour change is something we are looking at in great detail at the waterfront. We are committed to delivering sustainable development and renewable energy will always form part of any sustainability strategy. We have required our development partners to make their roofs solar-ready – and are hoping that the business case will stack up for them to install.
Energy efficiency seems to have played quite a large part of my academic and professional career. At a meeting with EECA recently I was able to share with them that I got some funding from them for the research I did for my Masters in Resource and Environmental Planning. I was interested in whether energy efficiency information campaigns were effective in changing behaviour. Whilst I hate to admit that this research was done nearly 20 years ago (showing my age), the issue of behaviour change remains one of the most significant challenges for sustainability.
It seems to me that now we are almost overwhelmed with data and information, which in reality often makes it harder to know what to do. Just like my solar generation dashboard – whilst I have the information in real time at my fingertips, the ability to see the information does not necessarily motivate our family to use less energy.
This is a challenge which we are looking to tackle at the waterfront through our Smart Precinct project. Technology for social change is how we like to talk about the project. It is using technology to capture, collate and present information on all aspects of the Sustainable Development Framework, and then leveraging that information to engage residents, workers and visitors to drive behaviour change.
This is a biggie for us and I am looking forward to telling you more as the project develops. And for those of you with kids, I shall also share my techniques for motivating my children to spend less time on the Playstation and watching TV – although to be honest I think the first challenge is more doable.
VIV HESLOP, Sustainability Manager
Dr Viv Heslop is Sustainability Manager for Panuku Development Auckland and her work is focused on implementing the sustainable development framework. She has an extensive experience as an urban planner and sustainability strategist and tries to practice what she preaches by cycling to and from work each day from her home in Mt Albert.
This was orginially posted on www.waterfrontauckland.co.nz.