During this month of October, Transformational Media Lab Director Beth Karlin spoke in part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual Solar Decathlon. The event took place from October 3rd to the 13th (over the course of two weekends) at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The highly informative and impactful Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. In conjunction with the primary competition, the event also featured a series of talks that educate students and the public about the money-saving opportunities and environmental benefits presented by clean-energy products and design solutions.
Karlin’s talk, “Can data save the planet? Using technology enabled-feedback to promote energy conservation,” discusses how billions of dollars are being spent upgrading electricity infrastructure to a Smart Grid, which “applies technologies, tools and techniques available now to bring knowledge to power” (US DOE). One major benefit of the smart grid is the provision of real-time energy feedback to the consumer. Using data from four recent studies (survey, meta-analysis, device pilot, and technology audit), the talk discussed key implications for policy, including integration with carbon targets and offsets. Feedback is widely promoted as a promising strategy for energy conservation, but careful attention to key psychological and social issues are needed to ensure that this technology is deployed in a way that maximizes its benefit to society.
For more information on the program as a whole (including past, present and future events), please click here.