Consumption Visualization

One of the areas of excellence in CMU’s Inspire Innovation Campaign includes a focus on energy, environment and sustainability. In support of the university’s sustainability initiatives, we did an information visualization project working with our own consumption habits.

Role: Designer
Duration: 09.2010 – 12.2010
Skills: Communication Design, Layout, Synthesis
Tools: InDesign, Illustrator

Data Collection

I broke down my consumption into 6 categories, each with further subcategories. Numbers are entered for both acquisitions and disposals, each number representing each individual item for simplicity. Data was collected for the duration of 2 weeks.


I thought it would be fun to design this visualization piece to encourage the importance of recycling. In the first iteration of visualization, I played around with a week’s worth of data, mapping out a timeline using different colors of bubbles to represent each of the 6 categories and ignoring the subcategories to keep it clean. I tested the design on my classmates and made some minor design changes.

By the end of the second week, a second iteration of visualization was generated. The design of the legend was modified to circles to build connections with the bubbles. A summary graph was added at the top to provide an overview of data. Graphs in the bottom then synthesize the data and extract how many units out of the net consumption are recyclable, that amount is then transformed into the “green potential”.