Based upon our experiences with the 2011 and 2012 Kukui Cups, our vision for the future involves the following:
- Evaluating the Kukui Cup game mechanisms and improving their effectiveness;
- Broadening the scope from energy to sustainability in general;
- Broadening community involvement to include primary and secondary schools as well as other universities and organizations.
- Creating a sustainable model for long-term stewardship through a Kukui Cup Consortium
Each of these are discussed in more detail below.
We seek a better understanding of how the individual components of the Kukui Cup challenge work together to create an effective experience, and how to refine and modify them to improve outcomes. Some important areas of inquiry include:
- Adoption. In the 2011 Kukui Cup, we attained ~40% adoption, where “adoption” was defined as the number of students who logged into the website at least once. The 2011 adoption techniques included flyers, the “social bonus”, the “referral bonus”, courtyard events, and branded merchandise (“swag”). Our vision includes a refined understanding of how well these individual mechanisms worked and how to improve this “initial adoption” metric. In addition, we want to develop a more multi-faceted view of adoption techniques that helps us understand not only how to promote initial use, but also sustained engagement throughout the competition, and finally the adoption of sustainable practices that persist beyond the competition time period itself.
- Energy literacy. We believe an informed citizenry is critical to addressing the energy challenges that face Hawaii, and that the Kukui Cup project has the potential to provide an engaging, entertaining, and effective way to raise the “energy literacy” of its participants. The Kukui Cup provides an initial set of educational activities. We evaluated the ability of these activities to improve energy literacy through a pre- and post-competition questionnaire given to a random sample of students. Our vision includes improving the kinds of educational activities available to participants along with better ways to assess the changes these activities make to literacy.
- Sustained change. The fundamental goal of the Kukui Cup project is to create sustained, positive change in energy behaviors. These “behaviors” range from simple, direct energy conservation actions such as turning off lights when not in use, to more indirect conservation actions such as choosing local foods with a lower carbon footprint, to career actions such as choosing energy-related coursework or majors, to social actions such as voting for a political candidate based upon their views on energy policy. We suspect that a single, 3 week energy challenge is insufficient to effectively encourage all of these kinds of changes, and so our vision includes a better understanding of how to broaden the ways we can engage with Kukui Cup participants and measure the outcomes in order to best obtain sustained change in all of its various interpretations.
While the Kukui Cup implements events and activities related to water, waste, and food, the challenge as a whole focuses on energy. However, our underlying paradigm (a combination of incentives, education, and game mechanics) has the potential to support change toward sustainability in a more general way. Our vision includes the generalization of the Kukui Cup to additional dimensions of sustainable behaviors.
There are many interesting issues to be addressed in an expansion of the Kukui Cup to include, say, sustainable water behavior in addition to energy. First, there should be a way to measure water consumption. Measurement enables participants to experiment with changes to the way they use water and see the impact. Measurement also enables comparison and competition, which are powerful mechanisms for change. Second, the educational materials must be enhanced with information about sustainability issues as they relate to water use in Hawaii