UPenn Blockchain for Environmental Sustainability


Like many schools throughout the nation, The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) presently has few college students on campus because of the impression of COVID-19. Assistant Professor of Architecture, Dorit Aviv is making the most of all these empty dorm rooms to determine an modern sustainability venture primarily based on Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain know-how.

With assist from Ripple’s University of Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), Aviv’s workforce is busy putting in sensors that may monitor every pupil’s vitality and environmental efficiency. The ensuing information is then tracked by a blockchain system that enables anybody who opts-in to view their very own efficiency statistics through a personalised dashboard, whereas 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 preliminary curiosity in blockchain happened via a analysis venture on designing extra vitality environment friendly information facilities. After discovering the extraordinary vitality consumption of crypto mining farms, she puzzled if blockchain know-how might be used to incentivize saving vitality as an alternative.

Her venture companion Professor William Brown is UPenn’s Head of the Center for Environmental Building and Design. He was already exploring methods to deliver vitality monitoring information to particular person college students and Aviv’s suggestion to make use of blockchain know-how supplied a vital lacking piece of the puzzle.

As quickly as they’re allowed again on campus, many UPenn college students could have the choice to know precisely how a lot vitality they’re utilizing at any given time and perceive which actions or instances are essentially the most vitality intensive. Dorit believes that giving people this info will encourage them to be extra considerate about how they eat vitality, whereas additionally including a aggressive edge to conservation.

“We’ve created a points system that not only shows you how you have been performing over time,” she says, “you can compare yourself with other users. It’s about making people competitive about their performance. By incentivizing them to earn the most points and therefore save energy, we can help the university achieve its sustainability goals.”

The worth of the venture will solely develop as soon as details about vitality use begins rolling in. The blockchain community is constructed for scale and UPenn is already collaborating with one other college to increase the use case past vitality monitoring. 

A gaggle of engineering undergraduates are excited by making use of machine studying to the info with the intention to uncover large-scale learnings about UPenn’s vitality use. Dorit additionally believes that different departments on the college will be capable to use the blockchain community as a platform for a spread of experiments and analysis initiatives.

“We can see people plugging in to the network that have very different incentives or interests,” she concludes. “Someone might want to connect a robot they’ve built or an economics student may build a new model for token distribution on it. How this will evolve is really exciting, so thanks to UBRI for funding and supporting this project.”

Listen to the newest episode from UBRI’s podcast, All About Blockchain for extra.

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