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A digital display to communicate
environmental performance

Client: USGBC


Help buildings communicate and display environmental efficiency.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in building design, construction, and operation. It's best known for the LEED green building rating systems, a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings.

One of the persistent criticisms leveled against LEED is that it awards its certification based on a building estimated performance, instead of its performance over time. With buildings becoming smarter and more automated, USGBC is ready to transition to a performance-based rating and has partnered with IDEO to design tools to bring the building alive and increase resident awareness. 


A digital dynamic plaque that measures, monitors and scores your building’s performance. 

The plaque acts like a visual scoreboard. It tracks how a building performs in five categories: energy, waste, transportation, water, and human experience. Owners can compare their building’s current and past performance and can examine the building’s overall performance relative to comparable structures. Additionally, they can enter the building’s performance data into the USGBC’s online interface as frequently as they want–but the USGBC will require owners to submit building data at least once a year in order to re-certify. Occupants are also encouraged to enter data, under the “human performance” section, and add complaints or suggest improvements.


Familiar graphics like charts and graphs tend to make people focus on the negative, whereas we wanted people to focus on progress.
Using a “racetrack” design allowed us to show real sustainability data in a way that encourages positive behavior change. No matter how long the strip on the racetrack is, you can see that you’re on your way, even if you still have a ways to go.

Most buildings with LEED certification, both residential and office, are not yet equipped with smart technologies to automate data collection. 
Home owners and building managers have access to a dashboard where they can enter data manually, connect their LEED profile to their water, waste and energy provider's account or sync third parties devices and apps to visualize a more in-depth data breakdown.  

The most efficient way to improve performance is to focus on systemic change at the building scale, and let occupant behavior change take on a minor role. At the same time it’s important for residents to feel like they can make a difference toward a healthier building.
We designed a survey that engages occupants and allows them to track their contribution. It’s fun and slightly competitive but not in a way that requires ongoing participation and a lot of effort. 


Our collaboration with USGBC started in the form of a quick two weeks sprint, during which the team explored a variety of ways to visualize building data across the five LEED's KPIs. 

Phase one led quickly to a longer partnership with USGBC and a new phase of work heavy on research, design and user testing. In true IDEO spirit we interviewed individuals at both extremes of environmental awareness, from which we learned what could motivate behavior change and what's the science behind an environmentally responsible building. We also listened to building managers and building owners about the intricacy of maintaining new and old buildings, while guaranteeing resident's satisfaction. 

Product designers, interaction designers and programers worked alongside to deliver hardware, plaque + dashboard UI and software for the first round of testing.

I was part of the team during both phases of work and I was tasked with designing the racetrack visualization for the digital plaque and the UI for the resident's dashboard. I lead user testing sessions and contributed in providing assets for the software development.