CarbonTerp: A Carbon Calculator For On-Campus Terps

From Cmsc434_f08
Jump to: navigation, search

Project Members:

Zaven Mnatzakanian

Hyunchan Choi

Earl Holman

Special Notes

- This program is currently written in C# using .Net 3.5. Please update to the most recent .Net before using the program.

- If you would like to compile the program from source, just open the .sln file in the source file and compile in Visual Studio. If you just want to run the executable, unzip the CarbonTerp.zip file and run CarbonTerp.exe. The program will not work correctly if userList.txt and resultList.txt are not in the same folder. Please do not modify these.

- To properly test the Footprint History, please log in with Username: testhistory and password: goterpsagain

Tasks

Introduction

To begin with, CarbonTerp will be a website and more specifically, part of the sustainability.umd.edu site. As such the majority of users would be students from the University of Maryland-College Park. The standard user would likely be using the site while browsing the internet anywhere they happen to be on campus (in class, dorm, cafeteria, etc.). As it is designed for college students who predominantly have laptops, the site should easily be visible on small screens. Screens on the website should be fully visible on a 1024x768 display and buttons and text should be large enough that they are legible on a 12" screen. Some tasks users should be able to do include...

Login

Users will have their own individual login to track their carbon footprint and past results. Ideally, this task could be completed by having a small module at the top of the page with boxes for a user id and password. If a user tries to complete an action which requires login, they could be sent to a page dedicated to user login.

Check current carbon footprint

This is the page where users actually calculate their carbon footprint. Users would input various usage statistics like how often their lights, computer, television, etc. are in use and what types of these products they use (i.e. Desktop or Laptop computer). Based on various usage statistics as well as a baseline for the dorm they live in, users would be sent to a results page. Users do not need to have a login to check their carbon footprint but it is recommended.

Check Results

From here, users would be able to see their carbon footprint as well as statistics like the footprint of other users in their dorm (who have registered) and the averages for others on campus. Results could be presented in a number of ways such as statistical numbers, graphical values and the "real world" mode (users see pictures of campus and what would happen over time if everyone treated the environment the way they do). Also there would be a suggestions section where recommendations would be given on how to reduce ones carbon footprint and what the results would look like if they made these changes. If the user is registered and logged in, they will also be able to check their carbon footprint history to see if they've any practices they've taken up have impacted their results. If the user is not logged on, they will be asked to log on or register to save their results. Users could also click a button to email their carbon footprint results to other students and encourage them to compare results.

View Carbon Footprint History

Users must be registered and logged on to view this page. The history section would have to visible elements to it; a graph which shows the user's footprint over time, and a table with links to past results pages. Each of these links would bring up a page similar to the standard results page except there would be no option to save the page.

General News and Site Info

The homepage to CarbonTerp would have any news updates about ongoing promotions and any general changes to the site. As a way to encourage students to check their carbon footprint, this could be updated to have new prizes monthly. Placing this information at the home page of the site would be important to building interest with new users.

Scenarios

First Time User

STUDENT A receives an automated email from sustainability.umd.edu telling them about a new promotion where those who calculate their carbon footprint are entered in a drawing to win a free iPod shuffle. The student clicks the link and CarbonTerp opens in their web browser. The user is presented with the CarbonTerp homepage where the news section shows the same details about the iPod drawing. The user scans the page for a link to the carbon calculator and finds it right at the top. STUDENT A goes through the parts of the calculator inputting answers to questions and various energy usage habits. After inputting their settings, the user is presented with their carbon footprint results in the forms listed above. At the top the results page is an alert stating that users must be registered to win prizes and provides a link to register. STUDENT A wants to be entered in the drawing so he clicks the link to go to a registration page. Here, the student enters their university email address and chooses a password. After entering this data, they are sent a confirmation email and returned to their results page. At this point STUDENT A exits the website and goes about his school work.

Veteran User

STUDENT B has been using CarbonTerp for a whole semester so he knows many of the ins and outs of the interface. He opens the site once a month to input his usage statistics and check his new carbon footprint so he can enter the monthly drawing. On opening CarbonTerp, he inputs his email address and password on the homepage and logs in. STUDENT B then opens the carbon calculator and begins to input all his stats. CarbonTerp remembers what electronics you have so after using the site once, STUDENT B only has to enter how much they’ve used the products rather than what products they are. Everything on the site can be entered using a textbox with proper formatting so advanced users like STUDENT B can keep his hands on his keyboard and fly through the survey by typing in the answer to each question and pressing TAB to go to the next one. Upon completion, the student is brought to a familiar results page, confirming completion of the carbon calculator. He is surprised when he reads the results page and sees some updated recommendations for how he can still improve his carbon footprint. Since STUDENT B is in Dr. Shneiderman’s CMSC434 class, he decided to send his carbon footprint results to his professor for extra credit. He clicks the send results link and inputs Dr. Shneiderman’s email address. After completing this, he exits the website and decides to go to the diner to grab a salad.


References

http://www.begreennow.com

This website shows four ways to calculate one's carbon footprint. Each test shows the user's actual carbon usage as well as the average statistical data. The four tests are added together to produce the user's total carbon footprint. The first test allows users to measure the CO2 produced by their vehicles by asking what car they own and how many miles they drive it. The second test asks how much electricity one uses annually and compares it with the national household average. The travel section asks users what airports they've flown to and from and calculates the carbon footprint produced by air travel. Lastly, the test measures how much natural gas the user spends in a year. After the calculation, it offers useful information how to reduce CO2. The site has overall good GUI control responsiveness and simple menu design.


http://www.pge.com

To calculate carbon footprint, test participants need to type their exact usage numbers. The site has a simple and easy design with no menu bar or additional navigation options. The users only need to follow the steps. However, the users actually need to know how much they are producing in terms of its units such as kWh per month for electricity, therms per month for natural gas and miles per year for driving which is a hassle most users prefer not to deal with. After inputting data, the user is shown a graph with the user's results as well as average carbon footprint for Californians, Americans and a global average. On the next page, the website shows 6 possible ways to reduce footprint and how much these improvements would impact their results. The graph indicates users’ new footprint and old footprint. This website does not have many options to choose or menu bars but it clearly shows its results in a graphical way.


http://www.carboncalculator.co.uk

The main page has a short introduction in the middle and menu bar on the left side. The menu bar has nine options. The calculator requires detailed information. It’s divided into several categories and subcategories such as transportation, driving, train, airplane, bus and so on. For example, “On average, how many miles do you travel by train per month? On average, how many miles do you travel by bus per week?” The users just need to click ‘continue’ button and follow the step. Thought it has many categories and question, it is not difficult to control. On the menu, it introduces effects of CO2 and explains how important it is. It also provides some statistics about national averages on a graph.


http://www.fightglobalwarming.com

This website has 6 options on its menu bar. The first link on the menu explains the dangers of global warming and divides it into four categories; health, weather, economy and ecosystems. Each category has its main picture on the left side and it contains its instances. For the calculator, it has simple procedure with 4 to 5 questions. It has questions about the user's home, auto and airline usage. It shows results with information on how to reduce the carbon footprint. This website contains more graphics and articles compared to other websites. It also has a lot of articles related to pollutions and how to reduce.


http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/carboncalculator/

This website is a simple carbon calculator. I found this calculator to be very ineffective and not very precise. They ask a few basic questions like what state you live in, how many people live in your household, and what kind of car (year and model) you drive, but they ask more obscure questions like how many miles per year do you drive (which most people would not know), how many flights in hours/miles do you take each year, and what is you average monthly bill on electricity, gas, heating oil, and propane. At the top of the calculator there is a bar that says what your total is (it doesn't give units, just a number). Underneath the number it says what your personal impact is compared to the average person. Overall, the site was too unspecific, and as a result, not very helpful to me.


http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator/

This carbon calculator is more of a survey style, asking you a question and providing three options to choose from. While the questions are more general, there were 4 pages of questions that made the overall result more specific. I could see what areas I use a lot of carbon in and what areas I am doing a good job in, and it gives me the averages of the normal person in the same areas. A nice pie chart was provided upon completion that was easy to look at and compare my results to the averages. My only complaint is the questions are very borderline sometimes.


http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html

This calculator is extremely specific and lengthy but gets the job done. For users who know how much their monthly bills are, the results are specific and helpful. At the bottom of the calculator, after telling you your total emissions, it has a section on reducing your emissions, which is very helpful. It has a few sections like if you drive X less miles per week, you will save X amount of pounds of CO2, which is X% of your total. The section at the bottom is helpful to users so they can see what they can do to reduce their emissions, but overall the calculator is rather lengthy and is done all on one long page, which is annoying.


http://www.b-e-f.org/offsets/calculator/

This website provides a small calculator to determine the amount of CO2 produced, and has a link to a website where you can pay to offset your calculated emissions. The calculator provides check boxes for using the average if you are unsure of your total for a certain question. The offset page is nice because it provides users with the opportunity to do something about their emissions, rather than just telling them that their emissions are bad. The calculator is short and very generic, and tells you your total CO2 emissions, and has a nice table that breaks down your emissions into categories.