Saving energy in an office environment: A serious game intervention

Brian Orland, Nilam Ram, Dean Lang, Kevin Houser, Nate Kling, Michael Coccia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Serious Games are virtual simulations of real-world activities that can both educate users and prompt behavioral change. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a virtual pet game in reducing plug-loads in a mid-size commercial office. Participants were 61 resident workers. The energy consumption of 288 appliances was monitored for 24 weeks using plug-load sensors. After 4-weeks of baseline, 42 participants were introduced to the "Energy Chickens" serious game, which they played for 12 weeks. Within the game, daily energy consumption data for each individual's devices were used to manipulate animated chickens living on a personalized virtual farm. Changes in device-specific energy consumption were reflected in the improving or declining "health" of the corresponding chickens. Healthy, energy-saving chickens laid eggs that the user could collect and use to purchase accessories for their virtual farm. Across all intervention days, average energy consumption declined by 13%. Participants achieved 23% reductions on non-work days and 7% reductions on workdays. At the conclusion of the intervention, 69% of participants indicated that the game helped them be more energy conscious, with some indicating changes in their energy use outside the office. Results highlight the effectiveness of behavioral interventions on plug-load energy consumption within commercial office settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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