New NTU mobile app rewards students for saving energy

SINGAPORE- Students at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) can now earn rewards by picking the greener option on campus.

By using the university's newly launched Eco-App to record their daily environmentally-friendly habits, they can earn points that can be used to redeem things such as lucky draw coupons or food vouchers.

Called POWERZ, the app was launched on Monday morning by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Environment and Water Resources, at the opening of NTU's annual Greenfest, the flagship event of NTU's environmental student club Earthlink.

The app, which was developed by NTU's Energy Research Institute(ERI@N), has two different levels of gameplay, virtual and actual.

The virtual stage is designed as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, where each player gets to create their own avatar and score points through playing in-game activities.

For the "actual" component, users can earn points through environmentally-friendly behaviours such as using fans instead of air-conditioning in residential halls, or switching off lights in lecture theatres when not in use.

Mr Nilesh Jadhav, programme director for NTU's EcoCampus, said the app took about four months from conception to development. Since its soft launch in end February, there have been about 250 downloads of the app.

He estimated that the app could potentially save the university $2 million a year, about 5 per cent of energy savings for the university.

"This app combines everyday user behaviours and gamification to achieve NTU's larger objective to conserve energy," he said. "By involving the whole campus community, we not only increase their awareness of the various ways to save energy in offices, laboratories, and homes, but also improve energy efficiency in a fun way."