Smart technology is one of the most obvious happy unions of technology and sustainability. In terms of building performance, the best way to guarantee efficient operations is not to leave the monitoring up to the occupants. We tend to be forgetful, lazy, or too busy to trouble with the finer points of streamlining the environmental responsibility of our homes and offices.
An article in BusinessWeek points out the potential value of small robots called "edge monkeys" that can patrol building facades and nip inefficiencies in the bud. The robots would not only close windows and check thermostats, they'd alert occupants to the wasteful behaviors [in an allegedly charming and humorous manner]. But monkeys are just one example of automated controls; less animated features include double-thick "interactive envelopes," which have a cavity between the panes for ventilation and solar-activated shading; and smart windows, like those installed in the Minnesota green school we mentioned last week.
The BusinessWeek piece points to the slow uptake and frequent reticence among architects due to concerns over these technologies falling into disrepair or obselescence, but also to the fact that rising concerns about energy efficiency and sustainability are motivating a priority shift. We need all the persuasion we can get to modify our behavior before the planet is severely compromised.
can that droid be my 'edge monkey?'
what we need, I think, to modify behavior, is a better connection between action and consequence. The robot doesn't need to tell anyone to shut their widow, it can just report which employee uses the most energy, and their pay can be docked accordingly.
Harsh, maybe. But effective.