Visualising waste worth £3 million

How do you draw attention to the recycling we don't do (but could)? And how can you show people the benefits?  West Sussex Waste wanted an innovative way to reach out to households and approached us for ideas. Starting point was the strap line for the campaign - Think before you throw - and a giant spreadsheet which was trawled for appropriate and usable data.  

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Bio-Buildings are carbon 'banks'

We have been visualising how material in construction can have a positive impact on carbon dioxide levels. This is how a building can ‘bank’ carbon through natural construction materials. 

Building with bio materials like straw and wood locks up carbon. The visualisation below shows the amount of carbon captured within different materials.  The use of bio-based materials has been met with scepticism from architects, insurers and contractors.  That is now changing as bio materials become mainstream in the construction industry. Seeing the ‘carbon-capture’ potential of these sorts of buildings could help those in the sector consider the full potential of working with these materials. The bubbles here represent a carbon saving.

Modcell 2

Innovative bio building specialists Modcell and Coobio asked us to create a set of images that show the actual embedded carbon dioxide in a typical modular TAM (Temporary Accommodation Module) building. The imagery is being used to illustrate the carbon benefits of the companies high quality affordable social housing and alternative lodge homes.

Carbon sequestration in the Severn Estuary

We think of estuaries primarily in terms of nature and wildlife.  But estuaries also provide important ecosystem services, for instance the saltmarsh sequesters and stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Communicating this to the public is a challenge, but we wanted to have a go…

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Simple images to bring data alive

Often a simple image set can get across a positive message better than any amount of words, helping people really see success, aspiration and change. This is particularly true in the case of stories of carbon reduction and carbon targets. 

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Exploring Ireland’s energy future

Ireland has agreed to cut emissions from electricity generation, buildings and transport by at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. But shifting to a sustainable energy system requires both political and societal support.  An easy way to visually explore energy options was needed.

Real World Visuals provided the visual interface for the Ireland 2050 web-tool, part of an educational project developed and coordinated by The Energy Institute in Ireland.  The web-tool allows anyone to access and explore different future electricity and energy supply and demand options for the country.

We believe in empowering people to participate in the discussion about Ireland’s energy system; by knowing how it works, what it takes to have a secure and stable supply of energy to people’s homes and businesses, whether it is fair and competitive, how it has developed over time, and how it could continue to develop with greater efficiency and synergy with our community and our environment.
— 'About' section of Ireland 2050 website

As different options are selected the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions is shown as a real volume (m3 per second).  From the beginning a key part of the brief was to allow the tool to be used on smart-phones and tablets as well as conventional computer screens.  

Making a tool like this work on such a wide variety of devices imposes quite strict constraints. We were very limited, for instance, in what we could do in 3D - a library such as Three.js won’t work on all devices, many of which have no 3D hardware and can’t handle WebGL. Because 3D is so important to the way we make quantities visible, we built our own very simple system for generating isometric diagrams - a simplified 3D engine.

The excellent Ireland 2050 website provides detailed yet accessible information on the past and present energy generation and use in Ireland, as well as the My2050 tool and the specialist Irish 2050 Calculator.

The My2050 tool can be explored here.  To see how it works on smaller screens open in a new browser window.


UWE campus emissions brought to life

Students and staff at the University of the West of England (UWE) can now see the real-time, monthly and annual carbon emissions associated with every building on the different campuses in and around Bristol.  Our prototype carbon and energy visualiser has been improved to give faster and smoother operation and also allow viewing on smart phones, tablets and full-sized screens. 

Open in full-width new window.

UWE has made a commitment to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 22.5% and a 50% relative reduction of energy by 2020 (over 2005 baseline).  This means that no matter how many buildings, or students, are at UWE Bristol overall carbon emissions must be reduced. The university is on course to meet this ambitious target but to reach it everyone on campus needs to be aware of the challenge and actions they can take to help.

This is a really practical tool for our colleagues and students here at UWE Bristol, helping people make a connection between their day-to-day actions and carbon reduction. The beauty of the visualiser is it will work for staff, students, academics and also the thousands of visitors to the University every year. The potential for impact in meeting our commitment of a 50% carbon reduction is significant.
— Kirsti Norris, Carbon Action Manager, UWE

It is hard to act on a problem when its cause is invisible. Building managers and building users both understand the importance of energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but only building managers have a feel for the scale of the problem and the impact of changing behaviour. This visualiser helps make emissions real for building users, which is the first step to proper engagement with the problem.
— Dr Adam Nieman, Creative Director

See here for the UWE webpage.

Download Press Release here.

Visualising Bristol's Waste

Bristol Waste Company is keen to engage directly with households about the benefits of waste and litter minimisation and recycling.  Real World Visuals has created two films that show the actual volumes of litter, recycling and recycling opportunities.  The goal of the project is to elicit a measurable increase in waste minimisation and recycling and provide direct cost benefits to the council. 

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