There is a clear imperative for reduced energy consumption worldwide. The University of Otago has launched a project to create new tools and procedures, using organisationally customised information and communications technology (ICT) to address this. By gaining a better understanding of the technological, organisational and social factors that influence energy use patterns, the project will develop new modelling tools, HRM procedures and methodological guidelines for demand-side energy management for both public good and commercial outcomes.
The potential energy management benefits from better use of ICT are significant, with the public sector a key area of opportunity – 52 of the largest ICT users in New Zealand are in government; health; and education, with 40% of the government’s carbon emissions from business processes where ICT can be employed to reduce energy use. Green computing, or the reduction of energy use from better use of computer related resources, will be considered as a part of the project.
The project team consists of information scientists; social scientists and industry partners along with key government agencies. The team are also linked internationally to Sun Microsystems and the wider commercial community via the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI).
Previous energy resource knowledge has had limited application because it is based on modelling unable to account for human behaviour. This project, however, is based on multi-agent-based models, which can incorporate the impact of human behavioural changes. This multi-agent technology is new, with the project team, including Prof Martin Purvis, technological leaders in its development.
With the feedback afforded by the HRM and social science work, the agent-based models can be refined. This will allow adjustment of workplace procedures and lead to the introduction of policies to generate optimal energy use. All project IP will be used for the benefit of New Zealand, and the study results released into the public domain.