by Shary Heuninckx @VUB and Nikolas Giampaolo @Deep Blue Italy
How did we engage students in responsible fun challenges with EnerJettic? With energy prices going through the roof energy saving has become a major hot topic. But what does it take to raise awareness with a generation that does not pay their own electricity bill (yet)? The EnerJettic project that was set up on the university campus of VUB in Jette tried to figure out what actions are necessary to make students pay more attention to their energy consumption. Throughout the past academic year different engagement initiatives were set up that introduced the residents of one of the student buildings to the world of energy saving. Tips were handed out using posters and newsletters, monthly challenges were set up through social media channels with which sustainable prizes could be won, and the students were provided with a personal online dashboard that showed their own energy consumption in real time as well as a comparison with how their co-residents were doing. In a year-long challenge the student group that consumed the least energy even won a fancy local dinner in the top sphere of the Atomium.
Find out more about the Enerjettic spin-off challenge
Throughout the academic year 2020-2021 the participants have been asked to send in pictures of themselves applying their own original energy tips, such as systematically turn down their thermostat when they left their room, try to not use any electricity at all for a whole hour etc.
A pre- and post- challenge campaign survey has shown that participation to the project had a relevant impact on the students’ awareness regarding (unnecessary) heat consumption but also their general energy behavior, with a significant application rate and high probability of continuation of some of the provided energy saving measures. The participating students all remembered multiple tips and indicated they are still implementing them in their daily lives. It turned out that it was not one project element that made a difference but rather the mixture. The combination of tangible benefits (prizes or financial compensation) and environmental awareness creation (through the provision of information) incentivized most students to be more conscious about their energy behavior. The gamification element added to this, seeing significantly more students mentioned it as a motivator after the project than before.
In general we learned that students are more than willing to actively change their behavior, but the tricky part is to get them ‘off their butts’ to start actively taking action. A personal door-to-door visit was necessary to get them to sign up for participation and new information only stuck when an active challenge was linked to it. Despite the fact that we are living in a world that is becoming more virtual each day, it is not the social media influence but the live interactions that have the biggest impact. Have a personal talk and provide students with a hands-on experience to bring about a durable change in their energy awareness and behavior.
Wanna have fun with us? Check out our gamification tool available at the following link: