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University to lead million pound energy visualisation project to help people cut down their bills
Plymouth University has been awarded more than one million pounds to lead an innovative project which will help people to understand how they use energy in their homes and buildings.
It is hoped that eViz – Energy visualisation for carbon reduction – will help people with property, from homeowners and tenants, to businesses and other organisations, to cut down their bills as they see where wastage can occur.
The project will engage with members of the public and ultimately employ a range of social media to communicate the results. It will take an holistic approach to energy use and is being co-led by a Behavioural Scientist and Building Scientist.
One of those leads, Sabine Pahl, from the School of Psychology, said the key to eViz was changing people’s behaviour around energy use. She said: “Although many of us understand the importance of carbon reduction, we don’t make the link with our own behaviour. Research has shown that even in energy efficient buildings, carbon use can be 30-40% higher than expected because of the way we behave.
“We have found that it is really only when people see how it is wasted that they might change their own behaviours – and eViz is all about bridging that gap.”
The £1.8m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will see Plymouth lead a consortium including the Universities of Bath, Birmingham and Newcastle and international academic advisors in Canada, the Netherlands and Austria. There will also be a number of external partners such as the Energy Saving Trust, the Eden Project and the Carbon Action Network.
For Plymouth alone, who will receive £1.1m of the grant, the work will bring together academics and staff from its Schools of Psychology, Architecture, Art & Media and Marine Science & Engineering, as well as its Environmental Building Group, and the recently launched Institute for Sustainability Solutions Research.
Fellow co-lead Pieter de Wilde, Associate Professor in Sustainable Construction in the School of Architecture, Design and Environment, said: “We’ll use novel digital data visualisation techniques to present intuitive, easily graspable representations of energy flows. Using our virtual reality and data visualisation expertise, we will produce sophisticated interactive 3D and 4D representations, using a range of approaches including webcams, simulation, smartphones, and social media to communicate them.
“We’ll be able to show how things like installing loft insulation or opening a window can affect your home, and we’ll also be working with our partners, such as the Energy Saving Trust, to engage as many people as possible.”
The project would build upon previous research conducted by Plymouth University which used thermal imagery to communicate how heat was lost from houses, and which resulted in a number of people installing more energy-efficiency measures in their homes.
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