This blog post, provided by the IPR Behavioral Insights Research Center and written by Dr. Terry Flynn and Tim Li, is based on a research paper by Alexa Spence, Ph.D., Murray Goulden, Ph.D., Caroline Leygue, Ph.D. Nick Banks, Ph.D., Ben Bedwell, Ph.D., and colleagues. 

Key Findings

  • A tool that combines data visualizations and user interaction around energy use in the workplace was shown to be successful at reducing energy consumption, increasing concerns about energy use, and promoting social energy behaviours, like participating in campaigns.

Implications for Public Relations

The findings of this study highlight the importance of supporting communication and interaction in an ongoing basis to effectively change people’s attitudes and behaviour. Tools, like the one described in this study that engaged staff around energy use, are valuable for motivating behaviour change in the workplace. Public relations professionals should look at the use of data visualizations with dialogue and interaction to support positive social behaviour and social norm formation. Communications to achieve organizational goals like energy reduction may benefit from involving staff more and providing feedback through visualizations.


Engaging staff is important to reduce energy consumption in the workplace. Spence and colleagues developed and evaluated a tool called e-Genie, which uses behavioural science principles to communicate to staff and motivate energy reduction behaviour. The e-Genie tool is a digital platform that presents information through a series of data visualizations, including a temperature calendar, energy use graph, and thermal imaging taken by staff. These visualizations allow staff to easily understand complicated, abstract information, and provide them with concrete feedback about the impact of their behaviour. Critically, the e-Genie also had a discussion board that allowed for peer interaction, supporting accountability of goals and intentions, and the development of pro-environmental social norms.

The results of the studies showed that the introduction of the e-Genie tool at a regional government office was associated with increased concerns about energy use, reduced energy consumption, and more social behaviours like discussing energy use in the workplace, or participating in environmental campaigns over the 6 weeks studied. Staff feedback showed that the tool was well-received and that staff were engaged by the visualizations. Staff also appreciated the opportunity to interact with their peers and facility managers.

Blog post compiled by Dr. Terry Flynn and Tim Li. 


Spence, Alexa, Goulden, Murray, Leygue, Caroline, Banks, Nick, Bedwell, Ben, Jewell, Mike, … & Ferguson, Eamonn. (2018). Digital energy visualizations in the workplace: the e-Genie tool. Building Research & Information, 46(3), 272-283.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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