The Environmental Protection Agency is spending nearly $300,000 to develop technology that will track the energy and water use of office buildings, with a colored light bulb system that will send “visual messages” to employees when they are using too much.

Lucid Design Group, a California-based software company, received the funding from the agency with the goal to “change the habits” of Americans at work.

“Through this project, Lucid is focused on reducing energy consumption in commercial buildings by influencing people’s behavior,” the EPA said in a press release announcing the project. “With this award, it will further develop, test and commercialize low-cost high-tech approaches that can reduce electricity use in commercial buildings by providing real-time feedback to office workers.”

“The technology seeks to reduce peak electricity demand and associated utility bill costs through ambient color-based visual messaging; balancing energy usage and occupant comfort,” the agency said.

Jared Blumenfeld, an EPA regional administrator, said telling employees that they are using too much energy could “change their habits.”

“Lucid’s project is a great example of how technology can be used to help protect the environment,” he said. “Giving office workers immediate feedback on their energy use can help them to change their habits for the better.”

The project is part of the EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet competition, which initially awards grants worth $15,000 for environmental technology projects. Past projects include a device to monitor how long hotel guests spend in the shower, and “trash walls” for the poor.

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