2013 April Green Guru Spotlight: Energy Efficiency, Gaming, Social Media and Reality TV

Yes, the Green Guru Spotlight is for corporate level sustainability, but April brings Earth Day and companies look for ways to engage their employees in sustainability. A fun and effective way to do this is to combine game theory and Reality TV concepts with Energy Efficiency goals. Most of us know about OPower’s Facebook application that helps users reduce their energy use by comparing and competing with their friends. SimpleEnergy allows users to compete with others to become more energy efficient, and also to form teams to compete on behalf of a cause they support, such as a local school or community organization. Leafully translates energy efficiency into terms that motivate you to take action, such as informing you that switching off your computer when it’s not being used has the same impact as 10 trees purifying the air. All these Energy Efficiency apps use game theory concepts such as incentive, challenge, reward, and status to keep users engaged in energy efficient behavior. So how do you design a successful Earth Day program for the employees in your company using this concept? Launch an Energy Efficiency competition for three to six months. If you have funding, offer a few prizes, but gamification experts will tell you that awarding points, badges and status will be more effective and don’t require funding! The points, awards, rankings and recognition could be at the individual level or could be at the department level which may get the senior executives engaged too! Or, instead of prizes, give your employees a chance to be part of something that has “epic meaning”, like the San Diego Energy Challenge where residents who signed up for the contest could choose a school to earn money for. You could also combine the very popular concept of Reality TV, like the Australian show, Carbon Cops, which used fame as an incentive to engage families in energy efficiency. You can create a similar effect in your company by highlighting a different employee’s energy efficiency accomplishments every week, in your internal newsletter or website, using their videos and photos. You can also achieve energy efficiency at the company level by engaging employees in a game: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) collaborated with GE on an “Energy Treasure Hunt” at Continuum Health Partners Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan and in just three days employees identified $2.1 million in energy savings with a payback of 2.6 years and over 7,500 metric tons of emissions reductions annually!

If you have questions about what to do for Earth Day in your company or how to find energy efficiency savings by engaging your employees email

Read more about Gamification and Sustainability:

Read more about Gamification and Energy Efficiency:


Green Guru: Suparna Vashisht, April 2013


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