Friday, April 27, 2012

Could Gamification Accelerate Energy Reduction for the DoD?

On March 29, 2012 Dr. Robyn, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, testified before the House Armed Services Committee about what the Department of Defense is doing to reduce facility energy.  During the testimony, Dr. Robyn provided the following statistics:

The DoD has a footprint three times that of Walmart and six times that of the General Services Administration – 300,000 buildings and 2.2 billion square feet of building space.

Facility energy represents 20-25 percent of DoD’s energy costs and nearly 40% of DoD greenhouse gas emissions.

To reduce these costs the DoD is working to leverage advanced technology and reduce the demand for traditional energy through conservation and energy efficiency.  One of the biggest challenges to achieving energy reduction goals has been lack of good data on building energy performance.  According to Dr. Robyn, “high quality data in building energy performance is the building block for investment and innovation. The biggest opportunity lies in coupling these data streams with advanced modeling technologies and emerging diagnostic tools that can both identify cost effective opportunities to retrofit our buildings and improve their use of energy during operation.”  In response, the office issued an updated metering policy and Dr. Robyn expressed a need to budget for new meters.

The question is, however, are there ways to further accelerate energy reduction?  One of the leaders in corporate sustainability, McDonald's Corporation, found that success is accelerated with employee engagement.  "There is a synergistic relationship between sustainability and employee engagement, in that they support and advance one another.  Corporate sustainability is a common goal that employees can share, no matter where they are on the totem pole.  It encourages them to better their situations and enables them to feel as though they are contributing to their organization on a profound level."

Applying the McDonald’s philosophy of engagement, gamification could provide another avenue to use to motivate people.  A Boulder based company, Simple Energy, is doing just that.  They “designed an online platform that helps users understand their energy use with actionable insights, that scores them against their Facebook friends and that rewards them with real prizes.”  The platform does not need smart grid meters. Simple Energy is a software as a service platform and uses energy use data from the utility.  A critical component to the energy transition that is underway at the DoD is improving use of energy during building operation.  By following the McDonald’s model and integrating gamification platforms to engage DoD personnel, the DoD may be able to demonstrate even greater reductions while building personnel engagement at the same time.

Under the leadership of Dr. Robyn, the office has been leading the development of an Enterprise Energy Information Management (EEIM) system that will facilitate the automated collection of standardized facility energy and cost data.  The EEIM will further provide advanced analytical tools that will allow energy professionals at all levels of the Department both to improve their existing operations and identify cost effective investments.  By using the EEIM vision statement and capability requirements, industry can adapt its commercial off-the-shelf solutions to meet the DoD needs. 

We are on the ACORE’s military defense advisory committee working to facilitate interaction between private industry and the military and smooth the transaction space to expedite procurement processes so that we can help companies interface with the military.    

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