Online gaming has long held the reputation of being a time-waster, especially in an office setting. But
what if the activity were actually encouraged? And what if it could help your building reduce its energy use?
That’s the idea behind gamification,
which refers to using the features of games
to accomplish a real-world objective. It’s
been proven to encourage positive behavior
change, including motivating consumers to
“We think workplaces are the places to
engage people because we spend so much
time there and that’s a really important
peer group,” says Kathy Kuntz, executive
director of the nonprofit Cool Choices,
which operates a sustainability game.
“Typically our clients have that commit-
ment to corporate sustainability – and
often have done some pretty amazing
things – but often they run into this road-
To remedy that, Kuntz says positive rein-
forcement can turn energy reduction into
something fun – which is especially benefi-
cial when something like plug load is left to
the building occupants.
“I’ve seen research that shows in high-
1. Cool Choices
performance buildings, 55 percent of the
remaining energy usage is plug load,” Kuntz
says. “When we’re talking about trying to
get to zero energy, this becomes a really
When things like posters or memos prove
insufficient, gaming could potentially be
the better solution. Games and apps, Kuntz
explains, create a new paradigm by promot-
ing something fun and challenging – and
avoiding things like blaming or scolding.
Below are three examples of games for con-
sideration in which players undertake and
are rewarded for a range of energy-saving
Cool Choices has created a sustainabil-
ity game and training program meant to
engage business employees and students,
In Cool Choices’ sustainability game, ways
to earn points are specific to your build-
ing’s goals. For example, you could earn
30 points for biking to work. You could
also earn points for using a high-efficiency
hand dryer over paper towels, using the
stairs instead of the elevator, eating locally
sourced food or opting for a meatless meal.
The game can also be team-based rather
WeSpire is an engagement platform
meant to inspire employees to complete
actions that minimize their carbon footprint
and improve wellbeing. It began as a social
game focused on sustainability, but has
since adopted much wider use in areas like
diversity/inclusion and health/wellbeing.
A unique aspect of WeSpire is that companies can design, customize and measure
their own positive impact campaigns.
Employees can then record their actions and
engage in friendly competition with their
3. Shine by JouleBug
JouleBug is a mobile app that motivates
you to improve sustainability habits at
work and at home.
For facility-wide use, Shine by JouleBug
allows you to connect an unlimited number
of employees, who can engage in various
challenges and actions focused on sustainability, nutrition, fitness and volunteering.
Employees can log their actions and earn
points or compete in new challenges each
week. The app relays tips to help make
every aspect of your workplace and daily
routine more sustainable.
Organizations can also use a custom, private social network, where employees can
share photos and comments of encouragement and get to know each other outside
of their departments. The camaraderie can
help boost your organization toward its
wellness and energy goals.
Sarah Kloepple sarah.kloepple@buildings.
com is a staff writer of BUILDINGS.
ENGAGE AND MOTIVATE STAFF TO REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION WITH
IN THE SAVINGS DASHBOARD OF THE COOL CHOICES GAME, players can earn points
for things like eating locally sourced food and using the stairs instead of the elevator.