University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa alumnus Robert Brewer (PhD, computer science ’13) won the 2013 Graduate Student Research on Campus Sustainability Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). He accepted the award on October 6, at AASHE’s annual conference and expo in Nashville, Tennessee. AASHE is an international organization providing resources and professional development for sustainable operations, research and education.
Brewer’s doctoral dissertation, “Fostering Sustained Energy Behavior Change and Increasing Literacy in a Student Housing Energy Challenge,” provides novel insights through two open source energy challenge software systems, an energy literacy assessment instrument, and the discovery of fundamental problems with the use of baselines for assessing energy competitions.
Brewer developed his findings as part of the Kukui Cup project, an innovative energy challenge now in its third year at UH Mānoa. Using custom web and mobile applications developed in the Department of Information and Computer Sciences, students can access their floors’ current power consumption, track their cumulative energy use, sign up for energy workshops and excursions and use online educational tools to learn about Hawaiʻi’s unique energy challenges and opportunities.
“I’m honored to receive this award from AASHE, and also want to thank them for shining a spotlight on the importance of sustainability research in higher education,” said Brewer. “I hope this award will make more people aware of the impressive, multidisciplinary research on sustainability going on throughout the UH System.”
“Robert's research has produced new ways to use information technology to address the behavioral component of energy consumption,” said Department of Information and Computer Sciences Professor Philip Johnson. “UH Mānoa is the first university to combine real-time energy monitoring, gaming elements including quests and scoreboards, social networking, incentives and energy education in a single unified experience for students.”
The Kukui Cup is sponsored by the National Science Foundation; the Hawaiʻi State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; Hawaiʻi Energy; and the Center for Renewable Energy and Island Sustainability, Housing Services, Facilities Management, and Department of Information and Computer Sciences at UH Mānoa.