Sustainability through sharing
Shared Resources, Calm Tech is a Product/Service System (PSS) that takes advantage of calm technology to tackle sustainability in residential buildings in an innovative way, by sharing primary resources.
- You can read an interview about this project on the website of Medea, centre for collaborative media at Malmö University.
- The full master thesis is available here
The initial research is focused on the topics of sustainability and collaborative consumption, leading to a more defined space of investigation that can be expressed as the following question:
How to improve sustainability in Swedish residential buildings by encouraging the collective use of resources? How to make the experience of sharing resources pleasurable by enhancing existing behaviors?
Overview and mapping
The project is a blend of different design approaches, but also taking inspiration from existing products and/or services, users observations, design sessions, conversations with professionals. It can be categorized in the big field of sustainable design, it presents a mix of products and services (which makes it a PSS), takes advantage of calm technologies. Starting from the actual project, that focuses on resource share in kitchen appliances, a mapping of a bigger design space has been made, having satellite projects/aspects that acknowledge three main points. The first sees the sharing of resources in other contexts than the ones taken into account, and involves for example laundries and central vacuum cleaners. These are not only design examples that feed in the peripheral projects, but also inspirational pieces that fuelled the shaping of design thinking around the chosen design space.
The physical investigation area is clearly the household, more precisely I decided to focus on the kitchen: a place with high concentration of technological devices.
Tackling the problem
There are several resources that are used in a kitchen, such as heat, water, electricity. These ones can be used together with different households within the same residential building, as long as the use of the devices by the people living in different flats happens with little time gap.As to convey the message to users and encourage them to do this, I chose to have calm technology involved. Calm technology refers to those artifacts that don’t occupy users central attention the whole time (in use and not), but stay in the peripheral one until the users decide to focus on them. In other words, what calm technology proposes is to have non obtrusive artifacts staying in the peripheral area of attention when users are not engaged in the use, but that can still pass in the center of their attention in a smooth way.
The devices that better could fit to this resource sharing are dishwashers, oven and fridges. Below is a description of the concept for each of them.
Maintenance and monitoring
As it already happens in Sweden, residential buildings often have communal spaces, whose appliances maintenance is delegated to specialized companies, or division like Electrolux Professional Appliances. In the case of this project, all the above appliances maintenance is in fact responsibility of an external company, in order to maintain the quality of the devices as good as possible and thus extend their lifespan. This is justified by the fact that even though the flats might be owned by the people who lives in it, the resource sharing is affecting all the households, because a not efficient appliance will not share the resource at its best.
The monitoring part is one of the most important to give the user understanding of the benefits of this PSS for sustainability and sharing. With smart grid systems becoming more and more popular, it easily possible to access much more information about consumption than ever before. All this can be available for the user, just a click away.
But instead of showing how much it has been consumed, why not reversing it to how much it has been saved by having had an attentive behavior? This way the user feels rewarded by having had a good behavior, by seeing a positive result.
And why not relating the saved resource to something that is very common in everyday life? Of course “2Kwh” is a good indication, but how easier is it to say “electricity to watch a movie”?
As part of the online platform is the possibility for user not only to check the quality levels of their home appliances, but also book for a maintenance check directly online.