Planning Guide


A Kukui Cup challenge is somewhat complicated to plan: it involves a blend of real and online activities, feedback systems, incentives, education, and marketing. We recommend that you start planning your  Kukui Cup Challenge at least six months prior to its start date. Even more time might be required if you are installing energy meters or if you have to develop a significant amount of new educational materials.


To help you focus on what must be done to plan a Kukui Cup, we have developed the following checklist. Use it has a quick guide to the crucial planning aspects for a challenge and to help assess your state of preparation. Each item is explained in more detail below.

  1. Create your KCOC (Kukui Cup Organizing Committee)
    • List the members of your KCOC.
    • Are there representatives for all the important stakeholders, and do they cover all of the required skill sets?
  2. Initiate meetings with the Kukui Cup Project.
    • Have you met at least once with the Kukui Cup Project?
    • Have you provided them with your basic challenge parameters?
  3. Decide about metering.
    • What kinds of meters are you using?
    • Are they currently installed and functioning?
  4. Define the schedule.
    • What are the dates of the challenge?
    • What workshops and excursions are you planning?
    • When will you collect baseline data?
  5. Create the budget.
    • What is the budget for the challenge?
    • Are funds available to cover the budget?
  6. Decide on incentives.
    • What are the top score incentives?
    • What are the raffle game incentives?
  7. Design the educational component.
    • Do you have a simple mockup of the Smart Grid Game grid that shows all of the rows and columns?
    • What are your custom educational activities?
    • Have you completed preparations for each custom educational activity?
  8. Design the feedback component.
    • What percentage reduction will you require for the smart grid game?
    • Are you planning for feedback on any other resources?
  9. Create the marketing plan and materials.
    • Have you designed your marketing materials?
    • Have you created Facebook and Twitter accounts?
    • Have you considered a dedicated marketing person as part of the KCOC?
  10. Make assignments for event logistics.
    • Have you assigned an “owner” to each event?
    • Are all required resources for each event available and committed?
  11. Create a “game plan document”.
    • Have you created and distributed a game plan document?
  12. Design an evaluation of the challenge.
    • What evaluation will you be carrying out as part of the challenge?
  13. Install, configure, and test the technology (Makahiki and potentially WattDepot).
    • Are the systems installed and configured?
    • Have you completed a beta test and are all administrators comfortable with the technology?
  14. Design post-challenge engagement.
    • What follow-on activities can players participate in if they wish to stay involved?

Planning Components

Create your KCOC

Designing and carrying out a successful challenge is difficult to accomplish single-handedly. We recommend that you create a “Kukui Cup Organizing Committee” (KCOC); a team that includes representatives from important stakeholder groups as well as the correct mix of skill sets. The following table summarizes some desirable characteristics if the challenge will be held in a university residential hall:


  • Housing administration
  • Resident Directors/Assistants
  • Residence hall students
  • Faculty
  • Sustainability organizations
Skill sets:

  • Graphics
  • Fundraising
  • Education
  • Web technology
  • Event planning
  • Videography

The KCOC can grow organically during the planning period.  At the beginning of the planning period, the KCOC might have only one or two people.   One important job of the “founding” KCOC members is to grow the team, both through outreach to administration and faculty as well as to students.

As a rough guide, we recommend that you have at least two people on the KCOC available for planning and execution of each workshop.  Note that the 2011 Kick Off party at the University of Hawaii required 10 people to staff the eight tables with activities for the students as well as hand out t-shirts at the end.  There were approximately a dozen people that actively participated in planning and execution of the 2011 UH Kukui Cup. On the other hand, some Kukui Cups have been accomplished with a KCOC containing two people.

We recommend capturing video and pictures of the Kukui Cup.  If your campus has a film club, see if they would be interested in joining the KCOC to attend events and collect video footage.  This can be used to publicize the outcome of events and for marketing in future years.  For example, here are micro-documentaries we developed during the 2012 UH Kukui Cup.

Initiate meetings with the Kukui Cup Project

The Kukui Cup project is currently managed by the Professor Philip Johnson and the Collaborative Software Development Laboratory at the University of Hawaii.  To ensure the success of your planning, we recommend at least one meeting (either in person or via Skype) in order to discuss emergent issues and technical developments. As the Kukui Cup technology is under active development, knowing your plans can help us ensure that the technology development trajectory will work well for you.

At least six months prior to the competition, it would be helpful to let us know the “basic challenge parameters”:

  • The tentative dates of your competition;
  • Contact information for your organizing committee;
  • Whether you plan to host the technology in-house or not;
  • The approximate number of potential players and the approximate number of teams (i.e. buildings or floors)
  • The types of meters you will be using (if any);
  • What kind of authentication services you will want to use;
  • Any special desires or requirements regarding educational activities;
  • What resources (energy, water, waste, etc.) do you wish to provide feedback.

Decide about metering

A crucial decision to make early on is how you will meter energy (and any other resource) use during the challenge.  The two basic issues for metering are:

  • Manual vs. IP-addressable meters.   “Manual” metering means that a KCOC member must gain physical access to the meter once a day at approximately the same time in order to determine how much of the resource was used during the past 24 hours and enter it into the Kukui Cup system.  “IP-addressable” metering means that the meter can be queried automatically by the Kukui Cup system over the internet to learn how much of the resource has been consumed.  IP addressable metering makes it possible to have “near real time” data on consumption available on the website, with updates every 10-15 seconds.
  • Building vs. floor-level monitoring.  “Building-level” monitoring means that data is only available about the energy consumption of the entire building.  “Floor-level” means that multiple meters (or a single meter with submetering capability) is available to obtain a breakdown of energy consumption at the sub-building level.

The preferred approach is IP-addressable, floor-level monitoring, because this gives the best quality feedback about resource consumption and creates the possibility of floor v. floor competition.

On the other hand, IP-addressable, floor-level monitoring is the most complicated and expensive alternative.  In the case of the 2011 Kukui Cup, it took over a year to complete the installation of IP-addressable, floor-level monitoring throughout the Hale Aloha residence hall complex.

If you are contemplating IP-addressable meters, be sure to contact a Kukui Cup project member to discuss the brand of meter you are intending to install and make sure it can be queried by the Kukui Cup software.  The software can support a wide variety of meters.  Two acceptable choices are the Shark 200-S meter by Electro-Industries and the E-Gauge meter.

Define the schedule

The 2011 UH Kukui Cup started in mid-October, had three rounds, and lasted a total of three weeks.  The following hypothetical schedule (click to enlarge) also has three rounds and lasts for approximately the entire month of September (four weeks):

Sample challenge lasting one month
Sample challenge lasting one month

Note the following about this schedule:

  • RA Orientation: This schedule has a meeting of the Resident Advisors the week prior to the official start. This provides a final opportunity to explain the competition and the RA’s roles and responsibilities.  You can also have them sign on to the system at this point and become familiar with it. It’s also an opportunity to provide them with Kukui Cup t-shirts.
  • Kick-off party:  It’s extremely useful to have an event in a common area accessible to all potential players on the first day of the challenge to raise awareness and motivation to participate.  We have designed a kick-off party with nine stations that players visit in turn to learn some aspect of the Kukui Cup; after going to all nine, they received a free t-shirt.
  • Play at the Cafe:  While the kick-off party creates some initial awareness, it is important to maintain a physical presence particularly during the first part of challenge.  We have designed an event called “Play at the Cafe” involving a table outside the cafeteria on Tuesday and Thursday of the first two weeks of the competition (four evenings in all).  Residents passing by can play a different energy-related game each night as they wait in line for dinner, and then receive a different swag item (i.e. a lanyard, water bottle, tumbler, and eco-tote branded with the Kukui Cup logo) each night.  Play at the Cafe is a useful marketing and awareness raising mechanism, both through the interaction with students and the distribution of branded merchandise into the residence halls.
  • Workshops.  This schedule includes 8 workshops occurring at 9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A major planning activity is to determine what workshops to hold and what resources (people, materials, etc.) are needed for them.
  • Excursions.  This schedule includes four excursions, all occurring from 1-4pm on Saturdays.  Excursions take several hours and require you to provide transportation.
  • Award events.  This schedule includes six award events, all occurring on the Monday following the end of Round 1, Round 2, or the Overall Round. At the 6pm Award event, individual and team winners are announced and individual winners can pick up their prizes.   Later that evening at 9pm, the winning teams are given their food prizes (malasadas, cupcakes, pizza, etc.).  The winning teams are notified shortly after midnight on the day before so players can plan to be available that evening for their award party.

For obvious reasons, we do not recommend that you schedule any events on Friday.

It is important to nail down the start and end dates for the challenge relatively early in the planning process, because those dates dictate the deadlines for other milestones (ordering tshirts, guest speakers, collecting baseline data, etc.)

Typically, you want to be able to collect at least 2-3 weeks of baseline data prior to starting the competition.  You also want to avoid holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) when consumption becomes volatile.

Create the budget

A Kukui Cup can require very little money, or require a substantial budget. To provide a starting point, here is a hypothetical budget for a “high-end” Kukui Cup planned for 10 floors/buildings and 1,000 students:

 Item Unit Cost  Number  Total
 t-shirts  $8  300  $2,400
 workshop food  $70  10  $700
 swag (lanyards, totes, water bottles, etc.)  $4  400  $1,600
 incentives (next section has details)  variable  variable  $1,425
 marketing (posters, flyers, etc.)  variable  variable  $500
 transportation for excursions  $100  3  $300
 honorarium, excursion fees, etc.  $100  5  $500
 website hosting  $200  1  $200
 TOTAL  $7,625

Your costs costs could be dramatically higher or lower depending upon the number of students, meters, events, and so forth.

Some things to note about this hypothetical budget:

  • The costs in this hypothetical budget work out to approximately $7.63/student, and assumes all of the organizers volunteer their time.
  • The budget does not include the cost of installing meters. Energy meters, for example, can cost $1,000 or more each to install.
  • Metering infrastructure is a good thing, and can lead to useful insights about energy use in your buildings independent of the Kukui Cup.
  • It is possible, though unlikely, that the Kukui Cup will produce sustained energy conservation in excess of the investment in the challenge.  We believe that the cost-benefit analysis must also take into account the contributions that the Kukui Cup make to the residential life experience and as a university investment in raising the energy literacy of its students.  When all factors are taken into account, we view the Kukui Cup as an extremely cost-effective investment in future decision-makers regarding energy technology and policies.

Decide on incentives

The Kukui Cup support two kind of incentives. The first kind of incentive is awarded to “top scorers” (both individuals and teams) at the end of each round of the challenge.  The second kind of incentive is the Raffle Game, where all players have a chance of receiving an incentive, but their chances are proportional to their level of involvement.  The following screen image (click to enlarge) illustrates the user interface for both of these incentives:

Top score and raffle games
Top score and raffle games

The next sections go over these two forms of incentives in a bit more detail.

Top-score incentives

In the UH Kukui Cup, we typically provide top-score incentives for:

  • The team with the lowest energy during each round
  • The team with the highest aggregate number of points during each round
  • The individual with the overall highest number of points during each round

In our hypothetical schedule, Round 1 considers data from only the first week of the competition, Round 2 considers data from only the second week of the competition, while the final “Overall” round considers data from all three weeks of the competition.  This approach enables players to “join” the game at the beginning of Round 2 on an equal footing with prior players, while still rewarding the early adopters in the third and final round.

The following table shows example incentives for each of these top-score categories and their associated cost:

 Round  Score category  Incentive  Cost
1  lowest lounge energy  mochi ice cream party  $75
1  highest lounge points  cupcake party  $100
1  highest individual points per lounge  $5 ice cream certificate (20)  $100
1  highest individual points overall  $25 bookstore certificate  $25
2  lowest lounge energy  malasada party  $50
2  highest lounge points  gourmet popsicle party  $100
2  highest individual points per lounge  $5 gelato certificate (20)  $100
2  highest individual points overall  $25 food service certificate  $25
 Overall  lowest lounge energy overall  pizza party  $75
 Overall  highest lounge points overall  pizza party  $75
 Overall  highest individual points per lounge overall  $10 bookstore certificate (20)  $200
 Overall  highest individual points overall  iPad  $500
 TOTAL  $1425

For detailed instructions, see the chapter Design the Top Score Game in the Makahiki Manual.

Raffle Game Incentives

Of course, most players in the challenge won’t receive a top-score incentive. Worse, many might conclude fairly early on in the challenge that they are not in the running for one of these incentives, and once that happens, those incentives cease to be effective for them.  To deal with this problem, the Kukui Cup includes the “Raffle Game”, which is an interactive game that enables all players a non-zero chance to receive some sort of incentive for participation.

The Raffle Game is fun to plan, because unlike the top-score incentives, there is no need to choose incentives intended to appeal to every player. Since players can choose the incentive(s) in the Raffle Game to play for, the more diversity, the better. Raffle game incentives are awarded at the end of each round (and new incentives placed into the game for the following round.)  Players can allocate their tickets at any time and can save their tickets for a future round if they want.

In the 2011 Kukui Cup, we offered approximately 20 Raffle Game incentives per round. The incentives included:

  • t-shirts
  • surf clothing
  • energy meters
  • gift certificates for food, coffee, tea, etc.
  • belly dance lessons
  • swag items (tumbler, eco-totes, water bottles)
  • “recycled” (used) guitar signed by Jack Johnson
  • “recycled” (used) ukulele signed by Jake Shimabukuro
  • custom skateboard with Kukui Cup logo
  • artwork

An appropriate strategy for the Raffle Game is to canvas local merchants and request donations.

For detailed instructions, see the chapter Design the Raffle Game in the Makahiki Manual.

Design the educational component

The Smart Grid Game is the primary Kukui Cup interface for educational activities.  The following screen image illustrates a sample Smart Grid Game interface:

Smart Grid Game

The Smart Grid game provides a grid that allows players to carry out a variety of “actions” (activities, commitments, workshops, and excursions).  Note that the events (workshops, award parties, excursions, etc.) listed in the schedule should also appear in the Smart Grid Game.

As part of your planning, you must design the contents of the Smart Grid Game. For detailed instructions, please see the chapter
Design the Smart Grid Game in the Makahiki Manual.

Design the feedback component

Feedback is an important part of the Kukui Cup, and (for example) the Daily Energy Goal Game is designed to help motivate players to act on the feedback provided by the system regarding their energy consumption.  Here is a screenshot of the Daily Energy Goal Game user interface:

Daily Energy Goal Game
Daily Energy Goal Game

For this part of the planning, you must determine how you are metering energy, whether you want to monitor other resources, and what percentage reduction you want players to achieve in order to receive a bonus.

For detailed instructions, please see the chapter
Design the Resource Goal Games in the Makahiki Manual.

Create the marketing plan

We learned after our first Kukui Cup that many of the 600 non-participating students later stated they “didn’t know it was happening” or “didn’t know what it was about”.   Note that this we got this reaction repeatedly despite:

  • Multiple emails sent to every student in Hale Aloha
  • 2×5 foot banners and posters in the tower lobbies and cafeteria
  • Distribution of 400 swag items and 350 t-shirts

The lesson we learned is that creating near-universal awareness of a Kukui Cup challenge among the target population is much, much more difficult than one might expect.  For a challenge to be successful, potential players must participate, and in order for players to participate, they must be aware of it and have a basic understanding of its goals. (Of course, some will choose not to participate even though they are clearly aware of it, but that’s a different issue.)

Some possible components of a Kukui Cup marketing plan could include:

  • A dedicated Facebook page for your challenge. For example, “KukuiCupUH2013”. We have found a dedicated Facebook page can be a very useful tool for communicating with players and marketing the event. In addition, the Kukui Cup software can interface with Facebook to provide useful services.
  • A dedicated Twitter account. For example, “KukuiCupUH2013”. The Kukui Cup software can use Twitter as a way to provide real-time updates about the state of the game. Even if your players don’t normally use Twitter, they might find this a reason to get started.
  • A flyer included sent to prospective players.  In the case of residence halls, this flyer can inform them that the Kukui Cup is coming and to suggest that they bring energy star appliances.
  • Posters to advertise the upcoming challenge.  For example, here is a Kukui Cup 2011 Warrior Week poster.
  • A series of posters providing information about the challenge.  For example, here is a Kukui Cup 2011 banner with week 1 events.
  • Email announcements to players before, during, and after the challenge.
  • Inserts for napkin holders in the cafeteria.  Here is a 2011 napkin holder insert.
  • Specialized announcements advertising each event and providing details about it posted in prominent places in all residence halls.
  • Branded merchandise (swag). In 2011, we distributed eco-totes, water bottles, lanyards, and tumblers all with the Kukui Cup logo.
  • T-shirts.  Definitely essential.
  • Public service announcements for the student radio station.
  • A YouTube channel with videos created during the challenge documenting events.
  • Your organization’s Kukui Cup logo, which appears on all marketing materials.

We recommend that one member of your organizing committee be primarily dedicated to marketing: creating materials, posting them, distributing them, updating the facebook page, etc.   We learned during 2011 that the time and energy involved in simply putting on the challenge events often led to insufficient attention to marketing.

Make assignments for event logistics

This will not be news to people who have experience putting on events, but planning and executing workshops, kickoff parties, and excursions is incredibly time-consuming and requires attention to an enormous number of details.

Our advice:

  • Each event should have a single “owner” who is ultimately responsible for planning and executing the event.  The owner can draft other organizing committee members to help out, but the buck stops at the “owner”.
  • Ideally, no member of the organizing committee will “own” more than one event.   We strongly recommend that no organizing committee member “own” more than two events.
  • As noted above, we recommend that marketing not be the responsibility of the “owner”, as it is too easy for marketing to get lost among other, seemingly more urgent issues.   Conversely, whoever is responsible for marketing should have no other responsibilities, as doing marketing effectively for the entire challenge will be very time-consuming.

Create a “game plan document”

For the 2011 Kukui Cup, we created a “game plan” document that specified all events, their dates, times, and locations, involved personnel, equipment, food, and a short description.
Here is a link to the 2011 Kukui Cup game plan.

The game plan is an important document that ensures that all stakeholders in the challenge (RAs, student volunteers, invited speakers, facilities and equipment staff, etc.) have a common understanding of what is going to happen and when it is going to happen.

Be sure to include a “Last revised” date on the document, as there will likely be multiple revisions of the game plan over time.

We recommend that you develop, distribute, and obtain agreement upon an initial, complete version of the game plan at least a month prior to the challenge.

Design an evaluation of the challenge.

A significant difference between the Kukui Cup and many other sustainability challenges is an emphasis on research and evaluation.  While a primary goal is to put on a successful challenge, an equally important goal is to gain insight into what occurred, why it occurred, and what could change to make it better for your organization in future years or (better yet) all participating organizations in future years.

To facilitiate this inquiry, the Kukui Cup software is highly instrumented and will enable you to generate a variety of reports both during and after the competition regarding who participating, what parts of the site were accessed, how long participants spent in the various areas of the site, and how that progressed over the course of the competition.

For example, in the 2011 Kukui Cup, we implemented a pre- and post- competition survey in order to gain insight into how the challenge affected student’s energy literacy and attitudes.

Here are some potentially significant research and evaluation questions that you might wish to pursue:

  • Did the competition produce energy conservation, and if so, how much? Were those levels of conservation sustained after the competition, and if so, for how long?   What changes in the competition structure might lead to more energy conservation?  What changes in the competition structure might lead to more sustained conservation?
  • What percentage of eligible students participated in the competition?  What aspects of the competition attracted participation?   What were the reasons given by non-participating students for not participating?  What changes in the competition might lead to increased participation in future years?
  • Did the competition lead to increases in energy literacy?  Did the competition lead to increased participation in other sustainability initiatives on campus?  What changes could increase literacy and sustainability participation in future years?
  • How well did the Kukui Cup web application work?  Did participants find the site to be useful and usable?  What changes should be made to the site for future years?

Contact the Kukui Cup/UH team if you would like to discuss ways in which to implement research methods to investigate these issues.

Install, configure, and test the technology

At least two months prior to the challenge start date, you should begin to install and configure the Kukui Cup technology.  In order to do this, you may need to have meters installed in your buildings. You should also have decided upon most elements of the Smart Grid Game.

If you have sufficient hardware and IT support, you can install the technology in your local environment.  We have also designed the technology to support cloud-based hosting.

You will need to configure:

  • WattDepot sensors to gather data from your meters (if IP-addressable).
  • The Smart Grid Game with all SGG Actions and their dependencies.
  • The top score and raffle game incentives.
  • The Daily Energy Goal game baselines and percentage reduction.

Approximately one month prior to the competition, you should conduct a short, 3-4 day beta test using a dozen or so “friends and family” as participants.  This will enable you to gain experience as administrators of the Challenge and also help uncover problems with your installation or configuration.

The site administration guide of the Makahiki Manual provides detailed instructions on installation.

Design post-challenge engagement

Once the Kukui Cup is over, you will want to think about how to build upon the engagement and activities that occurred during the challenge.  Do you want to continue to provide access to the website? (If so, and if you’re using cloud-based hosting, you’ll need to budget for ongoing access.)   Do you want to create an organizing committee for next year from this year’s participants? If participants want to pursue sustainability initiatives, how can you help them move forward?