THE ISF ACADEMY
The ISF academy (Independent Schools Foundation) is a bilingual private school in Hong Kong. The school has about 1,300 students and is expected to increase to 2,000 students by the end of 2017. Diana Ibarra, the director of sustainability at the ISF academy, believes that the climate-altering effects in human activity has increased the necessity to educate children to live sustainably and to understand the consequences thoroughly. Thus, the main vision of the school is to raise the students’ awareness of sustainability. To influence the students and to establish such mind-set, the school has launched several initiatives in the past. For example, the implementation of a food waste composting system was to recycle spoiled food to fertilize plants on the campus which helped the students not only to learn how the waste is transformed and reused, but also to give them a better understanding on how microbiological science can be used practically in real life to save the world.
This project focused on the importance of energy efficiency. It is a fact that children’s day-to-day actions may strengthen and impact their mind-set; however, raising of individual responsibility could not help to change the energy consumption behaviour of children. For example, the teacher told the students to turn off the lights when they were leaving the classroom. Unfortunately, since none of the students treated it as an individual responsibility; as a result, none of them turned off the light when they left the classroom. It is crucial to find a way to transmit impactful information so as to ensure message is well delivered and well received. No matter what occupation they shall have in the future, critical thinking is important to everyone. It is very often that children do not know how to fully utilise energy and they tend to waste energy since they have no idea on energy saving. So, asking them to change this behavioural pattern become challenging because drawing children’s attention on a topic like energy efficiency would be difficult as most of them are not yet engaged at their young age. Likewise, if the app will be used globally, it is necessary to ensure the transmission of informationto anywhere works effectively; thus, implementing the sensors and cablings of the automation systems in some old buildings will pose a challenge.
The school strived to establish a tool to motivate the students and broaden their engagement with energy efficiency.
To cope with the school’s plan, Visionaries 777 created an app which generated multiple benefits. It demonstrated the data of energy usage of the school in a visual format, giving user a visual understanding of those information. The user is able to engage directly with the app, bringing the topic closer to the children by visualization which may help to reinforces their awareness. While the children were confronting with these realtime energy usage data daily, they began to take the topic seriously. The historical data of energy being used created a powerful impact to trigger their behavioral change. The teachers may make good use of these valuable data and include them in the curriculum. By looking into these data, the students began to realise that a minor behavioral change could make a measurable result. For students studying statistics or data analysis, they may also make good use of these data for real life practice. After the student recognised the usual patterns of energy usage, they could even reveal a disfunctional air conditioner as the data of energy consumption of one of the classrooms surged comparing to the data of the others. The vast amount of data could be retrieved for future use. In order to get the best result on reducing the amount of energy being used, the school has held a good behaviour completition between classes, monitoring the energy usage of each classes over a certain period of time to see which class would manage to save the highest amount of energy over the period. The class who won would be rewarded a trip to Disneyland. This tempting reward drove the students to achieve this ultimate goal. After a certain period of time, this day-to-day practice would become an usual practice to them and they would then kept it up constantly. By using this app in an energy saving competition, not only reinforcing the student’s awareness of energy saving, but also forming their habit in continual use of this ongoing updated application so as to monitor their energy consumption.
To develop this application, Visionaries 777 had to partner up with G-Hub, the energy monitoring software company, to collect the real-time data of energy consumption by installing a required hardware.
The system was set up throughout the five buildings and spread out in the campus. Breakers were allocated either inside or outside the classroom. Each breakers in the building was individually monitored and the energy consumption data of each classrooms was collected in an interval of every five minutes on a 24/7 basis. All the data from the breakers, composed of more than 3,000 sensors, was stored in the cloud and they are extracted, comprised, and calculated by kilowatt (kW). The set up of this project was divided into two phases. Only twelve classrooms were involved in the first phase. Every morning, the teacher showed the students the amount of energy consumed in each classrooms on the previous day. The energy consumption of lighting, plug-in, and air conditioning were displayed separately. The system authomatically calculated the weekly and monthly energy consumption of these twelve classrooms seperately by every weekend and month-end and compared the latest data to the historical data to find out which classrooms reduced energy consumption the most. In order to motivate the students and give them an impactful understanding, Visionaries 777 created a free downloadable app that displays the current energy consumption of every classrooms. The app designed visually engaging with realistic 3D models of the school, constituted of five buildings and the environment. The visually engaged real-world scenarios rendered an immersive experience to the children. To further customize the experience, Visionaries 777 developed a software to navigate throughout the entire building and every classrooms to review the energy consumption in augmented reality. The transformation of real-time data into visualised pictures enabled the children to get an impactful understanding. The user of the app could digitally navigate within the school by simply scanning or taking a picture of any catalogues or any spaces. For example, a student could take a picture of his literature book, visually see the school in 3D showing in front of him and review how much energy the other classes have saved by now. The visually engaging tool touched the children emotionally as they would realize how overusing of energy harms the nature. The app also provides data for them to digitally compare with any other classes. It compelled the children for it could be manipulated by seeing the animations in augmented reality, demonstrated the what they wanted to see in their actual physical space, and the most important was, it led them to a behavioral change.
The project has proven to be a success – the app was downloaded and used by every students of the school.
After the system was being used for a while, the average energy consumption of the entire school has reduced over 20%. The classroom which won the competition even accomplished a reduction of 26% comparing to its usual energy consumption. Particularly, it is proven that the system helped in saving a vast amount of energy consumed during Summer. The app supported to engage children in a playful way and eventually led them to a serious topic. The children developed a deeper understanding of energy efficiency and created a social responsibility to all the negative effects caused by energy wasting. The app showed a tailor-made school environment to met the specific needs of the students and taught them about energy efficiency in an interactive way. The app achieved to guide the students to think critically of their energy consumption behaviour. By using the app in this competition, the children become united within classes that led them to a stronger bonding to their classes. It also linked their actual energy consumption to their usual behaviour which helped them to adapt to a new energy consumption behaviour and learned how to use energy efficiently.
The most fruitful reward was that, some parents who noticed this behavioural change among their children even inquired the school, asking why did their children started practising power saving at home, telling them to turn off the unused lights. In macro perspective, the developed tool succeeded in influencing about 2,000 families. This has proven that it created an impact outside the classroom, led the children to introspection and behavioral change. The success of this project suggested that people are captivated by visualized data with augmented reality. The app inspired and motivated children to save the world by practising power saving in daily life so as to maintain energy sustainability.
In order to bring excitement to the app, the school has to consult Visionaries 777 for further implementation or future add-ons. Visionaries 777 suggested, for example, by installing solar panels to the data storage system, data generated by the system could be visualised without wasting energy. Besides this, if a swimming pool were built at the school in the future, another module could be added to this data visualization tool. The lofty goal will be the app being broadly used globally and having more schools in any other countries to implement the same project in the future. These schools can come from any places like Hong Kong, Europe, Latin America, or the United States. Then, ideally, these schools may form a global alliance where they may compete against each other across different continents. Students of the schools may become extremely excited about this cross-country challenge. It may broaden the students’ understanding in different types of climates in the world and the reason why some countries need HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system while others countries don’t. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide an interactive lesson for children all over the world to bring power saving awareness into habit so as to maintain energy sustainability and slow down the speed of global energy shortage.