SHaC09 spawns green challenge for computing students

Posted on September 12, 2007


I’ve previously posted about the Sustainable Habitat Challenge. This is the New Zealand sustainable building challenge to be held over the next couple of years.

I’m on the SHaC steering committee. This gave us the opportunity to volunteer to develop the computer system to support the teams and administration of ShaC. This work is being undertaken by our Software Engineering students (in the second year of their IT degrees). We see this has having several benefits for students:

– a real project with real outcomes.

– a complex system with requirements for calculators, engagement, collaboration systems, 3d modelling etc. (see planning game functional requirements).

– a project that provides a handle for sustainability as being relevant to the course

– a large and multifaceted project with need for careful intra and inter-group cooperation

– an interesting mix of fixed features (eg templates for complying with building consents) and opportunity for creative and innovative solutions.

– a complex set of stakeholders with sometimes quite differing views of what needs to be done


We’re in the Interaction design sector of the second iteration of the Agile Development Framework. Already we’re seeing how everything changes – as this real project rolls out nationally different interest groups have needs quite different to what we expected – the phrase “embrace change” is certainly getting a workout! fr_whiteboard_close.jpg

Below are the functional requirements for the system. We’re working on Interaction Design at the moment, we’ll be back later with some interaction ideas to test out.

All functions must have an underlying approach of “encouraging sustainable behaviour”. All functions must include the basis of facilitating public engagement in the process and sustainability.

The system shall provide an integrated (financial and environmental) budgeting and reporting system for teams
– Integrated means financial and environmental
– The system should support teams throughout the entire entry, design and build process

The system shall provide a means to generate integrated sustainable building calculators.

The system shall provide a dynamic time-line structure to support teams and SHaC administration in project management.

The system shall provide an engaging and interactive game of sustainable building choices.
– the purpose of this element is to educate children (8-15) about the sustainability, building choices and to raise awareness of ShaC09. The game should, mirror sustainability decisions etc in the actual Shac09 process, and to this end should as far as possible make use of actual sustainability calculators.

The system shall provide for progress reporting.
– a generic and configurable milestone reporting system has several special cases: entry, design submission, judging submission.

The system shall provide for a collaborative competition structure.
– Submitted entries (at all phases) will be remotely presented to judges who will remotely confer and give feedback and make decisions.
– Incorporate all evidence submitted to be considered, including designs, team blogs, information submitted to sustainability budgets etc.
– Support for appeals etc.
– A system of public voting.

The system shall provide at least three calculators for determining the impact of design options.
– Each calculator should work from the same base information
– Calculators should integrate ecological footprint, embedded energy, lifetime energy, cost, and social factors.
– The system should take into account the geographic location of the dwelling.

The system shall incorporate interactive 3D representation of builds at all stages of process.

The system shall provide user and group management functions.
The system shall provide content management functions, including: news; individual and group blogs and webpages; resource links; content approval; guest book; incorporating all media; file sharing; templates.
The system shall provide communication between all users.
– intra and inter-group communication
– including formal and tracked conversations between teams and judges
– closed discussions within particular groups