Category Archives: Research

Kukui Cup in “Competition, carbon, and conservation: Assessing the energy savings potential of energy efficiency competitions”

The Kukui Cup is compared with other energy challenges in “Competition, carbon, and conservation: Assessing the energy savings potential of energy efficiency competitions” by Edward L. Vine and Christopher M. Jones, published in Energy Research and Social Science 19 (2016).


Competition has become an increasingly popular strategy to engage individuals in energy and resource conservation; however, there has not been an objective, independent review of existing competition programs focusing on the reduction of energy use. This paper attempts to address this shortcoming.

This paper reviews a representative selection of completed and ongoing energy reduction competitions in the United States and uses the lessons learned to provide best practice guidance on the design,implementation, and evaluation of future programs. Four key research questions are addressed in this study: How effective have competitions been at changing behavior and reducing energy? How long do energy savings persist after the end of competitions? Under what circumstances are competitions more or less effective? What are common best practices for the design, implementation and evaluation of energy and resource conservation competitions?

The primary target audiences for this paper are electric and natural gas utilities seeking to broaden their portfolio of behavior-based interventions, as well as potential designers, implementers and evaluators of energy reduction competitions. Our intention is to improve the effectiveness of competitions and to suggest when competition may or may not be an effective strategy to save energy over the long term.

For more details, see:

Brewer wins sustainability award

Robert Brewer (PhD, Computer Science, 2013) has won the 2013 Graduate Student Research on Campus Sustainability Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). He accepted the award on October 6, 2013, at AASHE’s annual conference and expo in Nashville, Tennessee. AASHE is an international organization providing resources and professional development for sustainable operations, research and education.

For more details, see this press release.

Brewer completes KC Ph.D.

Robert Brewer has completed his doctoral dissertation based upon the Kukui Cup, called “Fostering Sustained Energy Behavior Change And Increasing Energy Literacy In A Student Housing Energy Challenge”.

Abstract: We designed the Kukui Cup challenge to foster energy conservation and increase energy literacy. Based on a review of the literature, the challenge combined a variety of elements into an overall game experience, including: real-time energy feedback, goals, commitments, competition, and prizes.

Continue reading Brewer completes KC Ph.D.


“Makahiki+WattDepot: An open source software stack for next generation energy research and education”, by Philip M. Johnson, Yongwen Xu, Robert S. Brewer, Carleton A. Moore, George E. Lee, and Andrea Connell was published at the 2013 Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainability (ICT4S), Zurich, Switzerland.

Abstract: The accelerating world-wide growth in demand for energy has led to the conceptualization of a “smart grid”, where a variety of decentralized, intermittent, renewable energy sources (for example, wind, solar, and wave) would provide most or all of the power required by small-scale “microgrids” servicing hundreds to thousands of consumers. Such a smart grid will require consumers to transition from passive to active participation in order to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the grid’s electrical capabilities.

Continue reading KC at ICT4S

KC at Energy 2013

Robert S. Brewer, Yongwen Xu, George E. Lee, Michelle Katchuck, Carleton A. Moore, and Philip M. Johnson published a paper at Energy 2013 entitled “Energy Feedback for Smart Grid Consumers: Lessons Learned from the Kukui Cup”.

Abstract: To achieve the full benefits of the Smart Grid, end users must become active participants in the energy ecosystem. This paper presents the Kukui Cup challenge, a serious game designed around the topic of energy conservation which incorporates a variety of energy feedback visualizations, a multifaceted serious game with online educational activities, and real-world activities such as workshops and excursions.

Continue reading KC at Energy 2013

KC at BECC 2012

Yongwen and Michelle presented research at the 2012 Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference (BECC). The conference focused on understanding the behavior and decision making of individuals and organizations and using that knowledge to accelerate our transition to an energy efficient and low carbon future. Yongwen presented “Makahiki: A Serious Game Engine for Sustainability” and Michelle presented on “What Really Motivates Behavior Change?”

KC at Meaningful Play 2012

Philip M. Johnson, Yongwen Xu, Robert S. Brewer, George E. Lee, Michelle Katchuck, and Carleton A. Moore published the paper “Beyond kWh: Myths and fixes for energy competition game design” at the 2012 Meaningful Play conference at Michigan State University.

Abstract: The Kukui Cup project investigates the use of ‘meaningful play’ to facilitate energy awareness, conservation and behavioral change. Each Kukui Cup Challenge combines real world and online environments in an attempt to combine information technology, game mechanics, educational pedagogy, and incentives in a synergistic and engaging fashion. Continue reading KC at Meaningful Play 2012