Here’s a fun, encouraging story out of the UK (hat tip to GOOD
) that’s makes for a great addition to my community-centric Earth Day coverage:
For three weeks now, the residents of Tidy Street in the British city of Brighton have been recording their daily household energy usage on the street
for all to see. It’s all part of The Tidy Street Project
, a neighborhood energy-awareness campaign that aims to show how electricity usage on Tidy Street compares to the rest of Brighton.
The big question, of course, is if usage rates on the street will dramatically decrease now that 17 of 52 Tidy Street households have gone public with their electricity-consuming habits, now displayed on a giant infographic in the middle of the street. The answer is affirmative according to The Guardian
. Three weeks in, the street’s average energy use has dropped by an average of 15 percent. Some households, getting well into the neighborly competitive spirit, have cut back on electric consumption by as much as 30 percent.
This display will develop over the duration of the project: each day the participants' electricity usage over the previous 24 hours will be marked; and each week participants can choose to add another comparison line that will show how their electricity consumption compares to another region in the UK or even a different country. We hope that the residents, in collaboration with a local graffiti artist, will produce an engaging artwork that will stimulate the street and passersby to reflect on their electricity use. The street display is temporary as it is created by spraying chalk on to the road and will be removed at the end of the project. However, we will keep a record of how the artwork evolves on this website.
So how exactly are Tidy Street residents monitoring their daily household electricity consumption? For the project, each participating home was given a smart meter allowing residents to keep on top of usage figures and find out which household appliances and devices were draining the most juice and when. In addition to the giant graphic on the street, residents are asked to record their daily readings into the Tidy Street Project website.
Jon Bird, the designer of the open-source software used in the project co-organizer of the whole shebang, tells The Guardian
that community involvement was vital when launching the Tidy Project:
I went along to the residents' annual street party last year, and explained what we were trying to do; that it was voluntary and that no one was trying to impose anything on anyone. Then it was a case of identifying the 'champions' in the street — those who were going to tell their neighbours about the project; those who were going to be doing the measuring in the individual households.
Next up is a second phase of the project where 10 Tidy Street households will record gas usage over a six-month span. To learn more info on this unique community experiment that’s churned out a whole street full of energy-conscious kettle-burners, head on over to the Tidy Street Project website
and The Guardian
. Would you willing participate in something like this if it was organized on your street or in your community?