How UPenn Uses Blockchain To Incentivize Sustainable Energy Use

This article was first published on Insights – Ripple

Like many colleges across the country, The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) currently has few students on campus due to the impact of COVID-19. Assistant Professor of Architecture, Dorit Aviv is taking advantage of all those empty dorm rooms to establish an innovative sustainability project based on Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain technology.

With help from Ripple’s University of Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), Aviv’s team is busy installing sensors that can monitor each student’s energy and environmental performance. The resulting data is then tracked by a blockchain system that allows anyone who opts-in to view their own performance statistics via a personalized dashboard, while preserving their anonymity.

“Students on campus were asking us ‘how do we know how much energy each of us consumes?’” she explains. “There was no way to really know that data. Building a blockchain network to support IoT sensors allows us to now provide the individual user data on energy performance that many students want.”

Aviv’s initial interest in blockchain came about through a research project on designing more energy efficient data centers. After discovering the extraordinary energy consumption of crypto mining farms, she wondered if blockchain technology could be used to incentivize saving energy instead.

Her project partner Professor William Brown is UPenn’s Head of the Center for Environmental Building and Design. He was already exploring ways to bring energy monitoring data to individual students and Aviv’s suggestion to use blockchain technology provided a critical missing piece of the puzzle.

As soon as they’re allowed back on campus, many UPenn students will have the option to know exactly how much energy they are using at any given time and understand which activities or times are the most energy intensive. Dorit believes that giving individuals this information will encourage them to be more thoughtful ...

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Insights – Ripple

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