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Environmental Impact Accounting from the team at Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA).

We have been working with Dr Chris Dey and Jacob Fry. Below are some notes about how they have set up the figures behind the game.

“The game has the task of conveying ideas of both responsibility and empowerment to the player. Responsibility here means creating the link between lifestyle choices and consumption habits, and environmental impact. The consumption of goods and services in Australia create environmental (and social) impacts all over the world through complicated supply chains. Often the environmental impacts of production are hidden to the consumers of final goods and services which makes it difficult to conceptualise these impacts. The game encourages the players to accept some responsibility for these consequences, without overwhelming them. The assignment of responsibility is tempered by empowerment to alter these impacts through lifestyle and consumption choices. The game guides players through relatively simple changes that cumulatively reduce their environmental impact.

The game aims to reduce the total impact of the players while recognising the importance of relative or fractional change as well. All reductions in environmental footprint should be encouraged, however the effect of this reduction should be compared to the scale of the problem and not be in ignorance of the environmental footprint that remains.

Environmental impact of players will be measured against a number of indicators, including energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions and ecological footprint. These data will be collected from the players over time to establish their personal footprint. The players then complete real world tasks, or actions, to improve their footprint. For each action, the change in environmental impact will be calculated against the national average and combined to determine an overall footprint:

–       Water (ML)

–       Emissions/Energy (t-CO2e)

–       Land (ha)

Habitat points are an easy way of summarising the player’s progress in the game and allow them to communicate this progress with their peers. The ‘player profile’ will contain information about Habitat Points and the actual environmental indicators. These indicators could be presented in standard metrics, such as mega-litres (ML) or hectares (ha), as well as simplified metrics which may be easier for the players to understand – such as ‘swimming pools’ or ‘football fields’. The player profile could also contain the details of completed actions, this may also create peer pressure to ensure that these actions are actually completed or maintained.”

Real World Questions for the Players

In addition to taking care of the bears and playing mini-games, players can earn eco tokens by performing real-world missions.

These missions vary in difficulty. Many will be “honor system” activities that the app does not directly track, but maintains an instructional value whether the player performs them or not.

The eco tokens that are earned can use in the virtual store. Undertaking real world actions will also improve the health of the glacier park where their bear resides.

Some of the example questions for our players can be seen below. The savings for these behaviours are calculated by Sydney University.

Dark nights
I turned off the lights
INSERT – number of lights
INSERT – number of nights

Super Scrub
I took a short shower (3 minutes or less)
INSERT – number taken

Hit the Source
I turned off electronic gadgets at the source
INSERT – number of gadgets
INSERT – Hours

 No Baggage
I took our own shopping bags to the store
INSERT – Number of bags

If you have any ideas about actions your kids would like to do let us know.

Or join this discussion on Facebook:




Ecological Footprint Savings

Habitat players will be asked questions about their environmental behaviours and also be provided with the amount of saving they have made undertaking real world actions. All the algorithms measuring the behaviours will be undertaken by the ISA team at Sydney University:

We will be measuring these savings in terms of Carbon/Energy (C02), Land area (m sq) and Water (L).

In order for these savings to resonate with our players, their savings will be represented in terms of the number of objects just as hot air balloons, swimming pools, barrels of oil and soccer fields they have saved.


We will be measuring the savings for individual players and as the Habitat community. Over time we hope that the savings they make as a community will be impressive and kids will be able to see what they can achieve when they work together as a unit.

There is an old African proverb we love; “If you want to go quickly do alone. If you want to go far go together.”

Sustainability expert Chris Andrew talks a little about the importance of working together as a collective:

Habitat’s Algorithms

Dr Chris Dey (Senior Research Fellow in the Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA) team in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney) talked to us about the research they are undertaking at the ISA and how they measure footprints.

In the publication below the team at ISA have recorded imports and trade for 187 countries, over 20 years, for 15,000 different industries. Remarkably this data allows them to show the impact individual product purchases have on life cycles in other countries and on different species.

The diagram above shows the threat to species caused by exports from Malaysia and imports to Germany.

The diagram above shows the threat to species caused by exports from Malaysia and imports to Germany.

Chris and his team are adapting this incredibly detailed research to provide the analysis of kid’s footprints measuring impacts in terms of land, carbon, water and energy.

Check out the background publication here:

In the interview below Dr Chris Dey talks about how they work out ecological footprints