9 March 2011

Sitra’s Marco Steinberg on Low2No project

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putting people first
by experientia

Ecobuild
Last week Experientia participated in Ecobuild 2011 (London, UK) to showcase its work in user-centred sustainable design for the built environment, and in particular its experience of Low2No, a major low-to-no carbon impact development in Helsinki Harbour, Finland.

The Low2No project is run by Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund, and Marco Steinberg, Sitra’s head of strategic design, made a strong case study presentation about Low2No at Ecobuild.

Experientia’s contribution to the Low2No project is to understand contexts, habits and beliefs that influence sustainable change in behaviour and design solutions that offer people control over their consumption and allow them to see the effects of their actions on the environment.

Renewable energy, smart grids and sustainable technologies will only make an impact if we also address the underlying behavioural issues of our energy use. Rather than individual smart meter designs, Experientia is therefore working on integrated demand management solutions, that is, a holistic approach in which advanced smart meters actually become an access point for social networking tools and services in the community, by offering things like bookings, deliveries, schedules for communal services, and information about public transport solutions.

At Low2No, Experientia applies its user research methods to evaluate the impact of the architectural and design choices on residents’ behaviours.

Experientia also led the mixed use planning of a regional and seasonal food hub offering a restaurant, cafe and natural/organic supermarket, an eco laundry and a communal sauna for the Low2No block. Engaging prospective residents early in various stages of the design of service and residential design, helped to understand people needs, desire, fears and expectations. This helped in addressing issues such as multi-story timber construction, natural vs centralized/decentralized ventilation systems, flexible layout of living spaces and the planning of smart systems to reduce residential carbon footprints in the post-occupancy phase.

Experientia researched the user requirements for smart systems to design smart home assistants:
– provide contextual real-time feedback
– analyse personal consumption (energy, water, waste…)
– incentivise reduced consumption through social reward systems
– integrate controls – holistic approach
– design intuitive and meaningful interface controls

We will soon post more extensive background information on our Low2No experience, approaches and learnings.

Listen to Marco Steinberg presentation (audio file recorded by Mark Vanderbeeken)

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