Participate in Building Orbs Energy Monitor Research

October 29, 2018

Invitation to Participate in “Environmental Orb” Research

Lucid clients have an opportunity to engage building occupants with a unique and fun display technology and to participate in academic research on Environmental Orbs.

The Environmental Orb is a feedback display technology designed to creatively convey information about resource use to building occupants in ways that encourage greater awareness and motivation to conserve. A WiFi-enabled light bulb receives and displays real-time data from points monitored through BuildingOS. The orb glows different colors and with different pulsing patterns to communicate whether current levels of electricity or water consumption are high or low relative to typical use.

Beginning in 2007 and with grant support from the U.S. EPA and the Great Lakes Protection Fund, researchers at Oberlin College and Lucid have worked together to develop orb hardware and software that can be used to display any metered building data available through buildingOS. The newest version of the orb combines a software application with off-the-shelf bulb and housing hardware. We are currently seeking Lucid clients who are interested in working with us to pilot and assess the impact of this technology on occupant thought and behavior in a variety of organizations.

Intrigued? Fill out this interest survey.

Example of an Environmental Orb in protective encasing displaying electricity data
Example of an Environmental Orb in protective encasing displaying electricity data


We anticipate that the study will last for approximately four months. The study design requires that the orb be turned off in the space for a period following exposure and before the final survey (likely a month or more). The experimental design is We are a collaborative research team -- we welcome communications from members of participating organizations who have an interest in more actively discussing, participating in or contributing to the research design.


  • Organizations must be existing Lucid clients with meters for suitable locations already monitored in BuildingOS
    • Suitable locations are spaces in which: WiFi is enabled; occupants exhibit behavioral control over a significant percentage of the resource that will be displayed on the orb; a central location can be identified for installation of the orb display (or possibly multiple display) that is likely to be visible continuously or at least multiple times per day by the majority of the occupants of the monitored space.
  • Any type of organization (company, school, city, etc.) may participate
  • The costs of installing a light fixture (or repurposing and existing one) in the target location will be covered by the participating organization

Organizations must commit to adhering to a research protocol that includes:

  • Installing, securing, maintaining and ensuring on-site functioning of the orbs throughout the study period
  • Promoting awareness of the installation of the orb through emails and explanatory signage
  • Ensuring that building occupants regularly exposed to the orb complete a series of four short surveys (before during and after experiencing the orb)
  • Providing a research point person who will serve as the primary point of contact and a technology point person for local orb installation configuration and management

The research team (Oberlin & Lucid) commits to:

  • Overseeing all aspects of the research
  • Providing the bulb, fixture and software for the Environmental Orb(s)
  • Supporting technical and research point people
  • Securing institutional review board (IRB) approval at Oberlin
  • Ensuring appropriate anonymity in the analysis of survey responses
  • Analyzing and sharing results with participants including sharing analysis of organization-specific data with each organization

Interested in participating, or would you like more information? Fill out this preliminary survey and the Principal Investigator, John Petersen, will reach out with more details. If you have direct questions about the research study, feel free to contact him at