Crowdsourced Solutions to Protect the Planet

Published Nov-10-14

A new way to improve building energy performance wins a climate change open innovation contest.

Climate CoLab, United States

The Story:

Crowdsourced Solutions to Protect the Planet The Climate CoLab, a project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) runs a series of open innovation contests to find solutions for numerous challenges presented by our planet's changing climate.

Ideas are welcomed from all over the globe, as smart brains pool their intellectual resources to create breakthrough concepts.

Climate Change Issues

Participants can grapple with a wide range of topics including green buildings, transportation, waste management and rising sea levels, to name but a few.
The contest has been an annual fixture for several years and seeks to capture ideas from non-traditional sources.

“I think there are a lot of very smart, creative people in the world whose ideas are not ordinarily included in the global conversation,” says MIT Sloan professor Thomas W. Malone. “Without something like the CoLab, they have relatively few ways to be involved.”

At the same time, it gives people from many parts of the planet the opportunity to connect and discuss issues related to climate change. From these conversations among people from different backgrounds and disciplines, novel ideas may spring forth.

Up until September 2014 more than 200,000 people have visited the Climate CoLab website, and they hail from every country in the world.

Diverse Ideas

The fourth annual Climate CoLab contest was held in 2014 and as with previous years, it received a good selection of proposals. These were available for viewing on Climate CoLab's website and members of the Climate CoLab community voted for the ones they felt had the most promise. Passage through the open innovation contest was through a combination of public votes and the views of the panel of judges.

There were 18 individual Climate CoLab contests during 2014 and from the winners of these, a Grand Prize winner was selected.

Grand Prize Winner

The 2014 Grand Prize winner was Danielle Dahan who received a check for $10,000 for her concept - Improve Building Energy Performance: Green Job Skills Training.
Her proposal recognizes the fact that green buildings are increasing in complexity, but that there is a shortage of qualified personnel to maintain them.

The buildings house HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems and their controls which are designed to reduce energy consumption. That they are not performing as well as intended is down to a lack of employees with sufficient HVAC knowledge and expertise. Danielle proposes the development and implementation of HVAC control education programs for vocational high schools.

Other ideas that received honourable mentions included:

A collaborative solutions communication platform - a platform that combines text messaging and a radio magazine show to increase the flow of coastal resilience information among citizens, government and businesses in Tanzania. The platform will also be a forum for expert advice and solutions.

Democratic Finance: Energy of the People, By the People, For the People - a proposal for community-funded solar projects on unused federal rooftop space.

The Power of Creative Thinking

Every year, the open innovation contest unleashes a powerful set of ideas to help create a cleaner, greener planet.

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