In partnership with Transition Bath, B&NES council and Resource Futures we’re starting a new project to help local schools become more energy efficient. This update provides some background on Energy Sparks and what we hope to achieve.

One of the winning ideas from our environment hack day earlier this year was a prototype that looks at how to make energy usage data more accessible for schools. There was real interest in taking the idea forward after the event. This was due in part because we’d done more than just build a prototype: we’d managed to bring together the local technical and environmental communities who together had the expertise to build something useful.

We started to look for ways to scale up the project and get funding for further work. Happily the Open Data Institute were also convinced we could build something useful and have awarded us a grant as part of this year’s ODI showcase. A huge thank you to them for supporting us!

You can get more detail on the Energy Sparks project in our Q&A with the ODI’s Anna Scott, a recent article on TechSPARK and a project overview on the Transition Bath blog.

We’re building on good foundations because Transition Bath already have a great deal of experience in performing energy assessments on our local schools. Our project partners have also previously shown that its possible for schools to save 20% on their energy bills.

What we’re bringing to the mix is the experience of building data-driven applications. Rather than running just a one-off competition, we’re aiming for Energy Sparks to become an application that schools can continue to use on a regular basis.

Our initial challenges will be:

  • integrating a variety of data sources including gas and electricity energy usage, solar power generation and weather observations
  • building a system that presents data in an accessible way for teachers, school administrators and pupils
  • encouraging ongoing usage of the data and platform to drive behaviour change

All of the outputs of the project will be open: we’ll be publishing open data, openly licensed documentation and all of the software will be open source. We hope to build something that is useful not just for B&NES but could also be released in other areas across the UK.

We’ll be working in the open and recording what we do during our discovery and prototyping phases in this blog. You can also follow the @energy_sparks twitter account for updates.

We’re also looking for people who would like to get involved in the project. In particular we’re looking to recruit local primary schools who would like to help us test and improve the application. Please get in touch by contacting me at: .

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