UWE Bristol launches mobile energy and carbon visualiser

Issue date: 09 November 2016

Carbon visualiser

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has commissioned a mobile-friendly web tool that enables students and staff to see real-time, monthly and annual carbon emissions associated with every building on its campuses.

Created by environmental data visualisation specialists Real World Visuals, the visualiser tool helps raise awareness of energy use in individual buildings, as part of a wider project to encourage more energy efficient behaviours. It is aimed at helping towards the university's target to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 22.5% and energy use by 50% by 2020. The university is on course to meet the ambitious targets but wants to ensure everyone on campus is aware of the reduction challenge and the actions they can take to help.

Based on a proof of concept tool created for Exeter University, the prototype has been improved to give users a 3D map interface to locate buildings, offer a faster and smoother operation and allow compatibility with smart phones, tablets and computers. Further features are planned for the next iteration, including the ability to show live data rather than averaged data.

Real World Visuals is now exploring whether other universities might be interested in using the tool, which is understood to be the first of its type in the world.

Kirsti Norris, Carbon Action Manager for UWE Bristol, said: “This is a really practical tool for our colleagues and students, helping people make a connection between their day-to-day actions and carbon reduction. The beauty of the visualiser is it will work for staff, students, academics and also the thousands of visitors to the University every year. The potential for impact in meeting our commitment of a 50% carbon reduction is significant.”

Antony Turner, Managing Director of Real World Visuals, said: “We would like to see a kiosk with this tool in reception and other communal areas of every university that values its green credentials. And students should have this available as an app for their smart phones as part of their induction. If you are serious about carbon reduction on campus you need to find ways to make otherwise impenetrable data appealing to everyone.”

Dr Adam Nieman, Creative Director of Real World Visuals, said: “It is hard to act on a problem when its cause is invisible. Building managers and building users both understand the importance of energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions but only building managers have a feel for the scale of the problem and the impact of changing behaviour. This visualiser helps make emissions real for building users, which is the first step to proper engagement with the problem.”

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