18 Jul 2023

IrelandNetZero is a highly interactive digital sustainability simulator that will enable participants and the public to successfully lead environmental and sustainability efforts in organisations. It will be an engaging tool to critically assess actions for achieving zero-emissions targets. By utilising and presenting Irish scientific emissions data in an accessible and engaging format, the simulator will provide a user-friendly interface that is suitable for public use and outreach in corporations and in communities.

IrelandNetZero will be part of the Pillar 3 People’s Discovery Visitor Experience, planning for which is currently underway. The simulator will also be taught in an MSc in Sustainable Leadership at the University of Galway.

IrelandNetZero aims to foster meaningful conversations and engagement around the impact that decision-making strategies and partnerships can have on sustainability. The simulator captures key insights from scientific modelling research in Ireland and provides these insights in an accessible format to help participants navigate the complex world of sustainability. Insights from highly scientific national models are incorporated into a simpler model, enhancing the public's ability to analyse and test scenarios to facilitate decision-making in real time.

As part of the simulation, participants will be tasked with reducing the emissions of an organisation over a seven-year period. Participants select a number of initiatives from a wide-ranging and evolving list that is unique to Ireland including land use, energy and water consumption, transport, purchasing, waste generation, and management issues that affect an organisation’s emissions and performance. A dashboard will be created to provide participants with visual feedback on the outcomes of their decisions in relation to the organisation’s emissions, underlying drivers and the organisation’s performance. Financial and non-financial performance information will be available after each decision round as many sustainability initiatives can significantly affect organisational performance (see image below).

An overview of the IrelandNetZero model. Emissions data and scientific models are fed into the simulator. Players interact with the interface and test sustainability initiatives, triggering insightful conversations and public engagement with sustainability.

Participants must consider and choose the most impactful emission-reduction strategies as not all green initiatives will have a significant impact on emissions. Many solutions, such as rehabilitation of land, the installation of solar panels, monitoring the carbon footprint of purchased products, and behavioural changes, will create a more sustainable future for all. The IrelandNetZero simulator has the potential to be a powerful tool for teaching, learning and experimenting with sustainable decisions in a highly interactive environment of simulation games.