Smart Energy Now
Efficient energy consumption, reducing waste, and living greener — these have all become vital aspects to our social and corporate sustainability as we progress into the 21st century and work toward conscious living in regard to our planet and its resources. Sustainability needs and tactics are easy to discuss, but actually delivering measurable results (and making them interesting) is often times much more difficult to accomplish.
So in 2012, Charlotte-based Duke Energy and non-profit Envision Charlotte created a partnership and corporate social responsibility program to become the most measurably sustainable community in the nation. The primary goal of the program was straightforward: reduce energy consumption by 5% in uptown Charlotte within the next five years by fundamentally changing the way people interact with and use electricity.
A program and campaign, Smart Energy Now, was launched and supported by press, corporate communications, smart metering systems, a website and a network of kiosks positioned in uptown Charlotte office buildings. While appearing fully enabled and promoted, the program itself experienced low engagement, leaving stakeholders to wonder what could be done to increase performance.
- 02 08
Program Audit and Strategic Recommendations
Duke Energy approached UNION in search of a complete program audit to determine what could be enhanced or optimized to increase participation. We were happy to help. Through our consultative process, program immersion and brand auditing, it was clear to our team that the audience was most likely confused by the program’s messages; they were unsure of what to engage, how to engage and how their engagement would affect progress. We outlined these challenges, as well as opportunities we discovered, in a comprehensive program audit document.
With the audit of the existing program complete (and our own in-house energy-saving tactics in place), we crafted our strategic recommendations of how to improve the initiative. First, we established exactly what the goals of the project were so that any existing content or feature not supporting a goal could be eliminated. Next, metrics of successful goal achievements were defined in order to shape our recommendations to increase those metrics and have a successful program initiative.Goals
- Increase program awareness
- Increase program engagement
- Create a sense of community
- Decrease energy consumption (by changing consumer behavior)
- # of energy reduction pledges
- # of corporate energy-saving projects
- # of microsite and kiosk interactions
- # of repeat interactions
- Restructure and simplify user experience
- Clarify messages and instructions
- Incentivize engagement
- Create reasons for repeat use
Once program challenges, opportunities and goals were identified and strategic recommendations were made, UNION partnered with the Smart Energy Now team to realign the program's key messages. We decided to simplify the messages into three main top-level sections: What is Smart Energy Now? How Are We Doing? How Can I Help?
Our team designed wireframes to illustrate our UX strategy for both the web-based and touchscreen kiosk digital platforms.
Designing the Experience
UNION crafted an intelligent microsite design and experience for the energy-saving, behavior-change program.
Our creative team decided to use a line-based illustrative design throughout the site to give the platform a simple and inviting look and feel. Success of the initiative was dependent on visitors being able to understand the program and not feel overwhelmed when viewing the site.
As you can see on the home page, simplicity reigns king with high-level messages, strong calls to action and clear opportunities to explore the site’s content.
Icon Font for Retina Devices
To support and enhance the line-based illustrative style of the site, our designers created a set of icons to represent various aspects of the initiative throughout the platform. Our developers were then able to convert the icons into a fontset that would allow the icons to appear crisp on Retina and other high-resolution devices.
Driving Behavior Change
Our strategy called for a design that would include various quick views of the program’s energy savings, pledge support features, group program support, social media enablement and performance infographics.What’s Smart Energy Now?How Are We Doing?How Can I Help? – IndividualHow Can I Help? – GroupHow Can I Help? – Company
Live Energy Feed Integration
With the look and feel in place, our team now had the opportunity to “geek out” a bit in order to create a display that users could view and easily understand the impact of Uptown Charlotte’s power usage reduction.
Large volumes of kilowatt hour (kWh) consumption can be somewhat abstract to the average viewer. Therefore, UNION designed a system of “equivalent value” so that users could easily understand the impact of Uptown Charlotte’s power usage reduction. This system was then translated on the platform as a direct data feed of live energy usage in Uptown Charlotte.
- 05 08
Touchscreen Kiosk Design
To raise awareness and encourage engagement of individuals in Charlotte, a network of 50+ large touchscreen kiosks were placed in high-traffic office lobbies in each of Charlotte's uptown buildings.
Taking positions in the highly trafficked office lobbies of the city’s largest brands and employers was great exposure for the program.
- 06 08
Drip Email Campaign
As with many new initiatives, UNION understood that once individuals were made aware of the program, they may not stay involved. To keep engagement levels high, our team developed a drip email campaign that would send participants one email a week for the first four weeks after they took the pledge. These emails came from various high-profile members of the community, such as then-mayor Anthony Foxx, and included words of encouragement and praise for being involved in such an important effort.
- 07 08
NBA Sponsorship and Sweepstakes
Charlotte loves its sports teams. Understanding the depth of fan loyalty and the opportunity to greatly extend the reach of this initiative, Duke Energy developed an ongoing partnership with the Charlotte Bobcats. UNION was front row and center in support of this opportunity for awareness to the Smart Energy Now Program and created a comprehensive media plan and strategy for the Bobcats’ sponsorship during their 2012-2013 NBA season.
We created the “Shooting 2 Save” sweepstakes and accompanying microsite that would allow Bobcats fans to enter for a chance to win various Bobcats-related prizes, such as courtside tickets, merchandise and player-signed memorabilia. We used the sponsorship media to promote the sweepstakes and push fans to enter at the microsite. By creating a reason for fans to visit the microsite, UNION was able to tell a deeper story about Smart Energy Now’s effort to reduce energy consumption than the in-arena media opportunities would allow.
As the new work was released into the market, people began to realize all the ways that that they could save energy—as an individual, as part of a group or as an entire company. Through the use of more effective messaging, multiple program engagement options and keeping people informed through real-time data and trending insights, the Smart Energy Now movement was able to create the traction it needed. The result of our work has been higher program engagement, increased brand awareness, and most importantly, a significant reduction in energy waste.5,200 Unique Visits926 Total Pledges6.2% Decrease in Energy Consumption