Townsville City Council – ScienceMob: Sustainability Education Project
ScienceMob is an open-source collaboration creating a shared environment for the research and development of mobile, sensing and digital communication technologies, as well as developing standards for such applications. The ScienceMob approach is to engage students, interested professionals and the public to directly engage and innovate in science and technology using the abundant low-cost and open-source tools that now exist.
The Townville City Council have identified the energy saving and comfort increasing capacity of simply painting household roofs white. Simply painting a roof white in tropical climates can give the equivalent practical impact to housing comfort as roofing insulation at ~1/10 of the cost, saving both on air-conditioning costs and reducing CO2 emissions. However, there is a problem of communicating this win-win outcome to the public.
A group of volunteer students and staff focused on the communication problem by using designing a very low cost temperature sensing network across 8 subterranean enclosures. Each enclosure was fitted with a galvanized roof, half painted black and half white. Various thicknesses of insulation were also used.
After installation of the 8-temperature sensor system at Townsville City Council (TCC) Sustainability Centre, a wall mounted TV was used to show data graphs as well as the data being available on the Internet and the JCU Tropical Data Hub. Even in cool temperatures 10 degree difference are apparent between white and dark roofs. In summer this can be 40+ degrees. This display is being used to contribute to public education about real-life actions to improve sustainability and lower energy costs.