Social Aspects of the Smart Grid

We choose the dorm setting as our area of research and went to Lægeforeningens Kollegium to observe the inhabitant’s behaviour. focusing on their use of electricity and water.

There we saw several energy conserving initiatives in the shared kitchen and in the shared spaces. In the students’ individual rooms however we observed no ‘green initiatives’ and a general waste of resources. The dorm inhabitant pays a fixed amount every month and is not charged separately for water and electricity and has no possibility of checking individual consumption.

This means that there are no incentives for them to limit their consumption besides their own conscience. We focused our efforts on the bathroom scene and the use of water and heating, exploring products and initiatives that could bring about a changed behaviour.

We worked for a time on different product suggestions, but kept coming back to the social regulatory systems in the dorm. Having received feedback from Intel we decided to leave out all our product suggestions and explore the realm of social interactions in an environment with a limited water supply.

The result was three short (and a bit extreme) video scenarios, suggesting how the existing regulatory structures in the dorm might work, in case there was a limit to how much water you can use. The videos are not product or service proposals; they are meant as a tool for inspiring or kick-starting a discussion on environmental sustainability between designers, engineers, decision-makers and other people working with sustainability.