Behind Act4Eco there is a consortium made by 9 partners coming from all over Europe. The real strength of Act4Eco stems from the variety of sectors if which partners are involved, ranging from energy to IT usability, from e-learning to consumer rights, from policy making to public engagement.
The ECO2 project – ACT4ECO – is about enabling energy consumers in Ireland and across Europe to make home improvements and use energy wisely. The ECO2 consortium consists of several European partners – with Ireland represented by the HISRC team, in CUBS, UCC.
Since consumers play a key role in the transition processes towards sustainable energy, the project will both engage and empower them by enhancing knowledge on how to consume energy more consciously in their everyday lives.
Energy consumption in Europe needs to be reduced and, at the same time, consumers are becoming more aware of the impact their daily lifestyles have on the surrounding environment. One of the objectives of this Horizon2020 Programme is involving all European citizens to adopt more conscious behaviors in order to improve energy efficiency levels. As a consequence, the European Commission is actively supporting innovative projects seeking to motivate citizens to take action in reducing their energy impact and consumption.
Persuasion is not enough
For half a century consumers have been persuaded to consume less energy because they play a pivotal role in the transition to sustainable energy. The measures available to consumers to reduce their energy consumption have multiplied in the last decades. Simultaneously, the devices we use in our daily lives have become more energy-efficient, but their number is increasing inside our homes. The imperative thus becomes learning how to consume energy wisely and preferably from sustainable energy sources. Energy providers, the public and private sectors can do their part in the transition towards sustainable futures, but the individual energy consumer needs to contribute too.
Energy Conscious Consumers (ECO2) project aims at increasing consumers’ awareness of their role in energy consumption and energy efficiency processes. ECO2 is implemented as a large-scale e-learning system for European citizens, who are supported in the implementation of concrete actions to save energy and make their homes more energy-efficient. It takes the form of a dynamic knowledge-sharing platform (ACT4ECO) facilitating knowledge for consumers on how to use energy wisely.
By following the learning paths proposed by ACT4ECO, each user will climb the “ladder of change” from Motivation to Exploration and finally to Action.
ECO2 will help energy consumers throughout Europe become conscious about their energy consumption and improve their energy efficiency. Since consumers play a key role in the transition process towards sustainable energy, the Project will both involve and empower them by transmitting the strategies on how to consume less energy in their daily lives. The main outcome of the ECO2 Project is ACT4ECO, a dynamic online platform aimed at engaging energy consumers interactively either with e-learning tools or transformative group learning within their local communities. As a tool for both educational purposes and community-building, the platform will eventually motivate energy consumers to explore various solutions in terms of home improvements and the implementation of energy-saving best practices.
On the ACT4ECO platform, each user will have the opportunity to create his/her own learning and decide which actions to implement. The platform will guide users to take action in five important themes:
- Change the house: limiting the carbon footprint of the house by improving its energy performance and investing in highly efficient technology options and appliances.
- Smart consumers: familiarizing users with options for controlling their energy consumption by correctly using and understanding ICT energy equipment.
- My energy consumption: helping users draw links between their daily routine activities and their energy consumption, e.g. by adopting small changes in behavior that can bring significant improvements.
- No rebound: avoiding the return to bad energy consumption habits.
- Make your own energy: guiding consumers in evaluating if it is worth investing in small-scale energy generation, e.g. by providing information on the necessary technical requirements.
ECO2 project is developed in three phases
- Ramp-up: making infrastructures, segmentation analysis, story-boards, and themes production.
- Pilot: the five Actions will be tested with voluntary consumers on the ACT4ECO platform. This phase could be considered a user-driven content development process ensuring high-quality usability and relevance of content.
- Upscaling: the final step involves viral recruitment of consumers, expansion to new countries, and collaborations with consumer gate-keepers.
The final goal of ECO2 is to reach 1.000 consumers in each of the 11 partner countries by the end of the project (March 2021), totaling 11.000 users for the platform. Each user is expected to take at least three actions. In order to reach these objectives, platform users will be motivated, their curiosity will be stimulated, and –by implementing at least three actions – they are expected to become more energy efficient. The adoption of this approach has a significant impact on the overall objective of the project, namely:
- Reducing energy expenditure;
- Monitoring energy efficiency actions through the platform;
- Increasing awareness and consciousness of efficiency control;
- Sharing knowledge in a community, either physical at a local level or online.
ECO2 also aims at developing a set of information and results for users to establish a dialogue with policy-makers and innovators at a European level, for instance through policy seminars. The creation of an ECO2 Community will allow the ACT4ECO platform to continue to exist over time, increase the awareness and the knowledge on energy efficiency issues, and create responsible and environmentally conscious citizens.
Key expected outcomes
The goal is to reach a minimum of 1000 consumers in the 11 partner countries, totaling 11000 users for the platform. If each of these consumers takes three actions, they will each save the energy equivalent of 30kg oil, making the expected outcome of ECO2 330.000kg or 4.2~ GWh.