TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Tore Land, Director, GE Ecomagination Challenge

We at GE want to give our heartfelt thanks to the TED community for participating in this conversation. Your ideas and insights -- ranging from home automation and discussions about a two-way grid to apps and gaming methods that can drive behavior change -- have been fascinating to read and stimulating to respond to.

On a personal note, as the host of this conversation, I want to thank you for your participation and fresh thinking here. And on behalf of the whole ecomagination Challenge team, we look forward to working with you to help imagine and build technology that can meet these pressing environmental challenges.

GE believes widespread adoption of clean energy technology will start in the home. And we believe the second phase of the ecomagination Challenge will help drive that change. We invite you to continue to follow this project via our website:

http://challenge.ecomagination.com/home

We're currently reviewing the submissions to the challenge and, together with our partners, will evaluate the most innovative. We'll be announcing the winners next month -- stay tuned for the announcement!

Home energy is a critical global challenge, and we want the TED Community to know we are committed to building -- and scaling up -- innovative solutions.

Thank you for letting us pick your brains!

Sincerely,
Tore Land
Director, GE ecomagination Challenge

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    Feb 14 2011: Eric Berlow's emphasis on data-driven decision-making is spot on. Imagine a world with data-driven approaches to the design and operation of homes that are sustainable on two fronts: the building's carbon footprint and the building's impact on human health. People in the developing world spend 90% of their lives indoors, and a significant portion of this time is in their home (sleeping). One groundbreaking idea for reducing residential energy use is to link - using empirical data - sustainable design strategies to human health. Evidence-based design strategies pointing towards a healthier environment and a reduced carbon footprint will motivate home builders and home owners. Preliminary data gathered by the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center suggest this dual-pronged approach is possible. http://biology.uoregon.edu/biobe/
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      Feb 14 2011: Jessica, this is a very smart approach. Have you seen any innovative approaches to promoting both human health and environmental sustainability that are already in market? Which do you think consumers are more cognizant of; the home's impact on human health or the environment? Which do you think they take steps towards addressing first?
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        Feb 14 2011: My sense is that consumers are more cognizant of their own personal health than the environment, and that homeowners will prioritize health over a low carbon footprint. In many situations, however, these go hand-in-hand. If consumers recognize this they will put their dollar on both.

        Innovative approaches already in the market are being advanced primarily in the health care sector (e.g. http://www.noharm.org/all_regions/issues/building/). The BioBE Center is collaborating with health care facilities to gather quantitative data on how sustainable design strategies like natural light and natural ventilation influence the built environment microbiome – the trillions of microbes that occupy buildings and ultimately affect human health.

        I believe it is possible to bring these data-driven approaches to the home. I envision a cost-effective, hand-held sampling device that residents can use to sample their home ‘microbiome’ under different energy use scenarios. We have already started a conversation with Think2Build (http://www.think2build.com/) about the potential development of such a device. What do you think about this idea, of being able to quantify shifts in energy consumption and the DNA blueprint of a building in tandem?
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          Feb 16 2011: I agree that both issues are related even if consumers prioritize health over carbon footprint as a motivating factor. In fact, addressing carbon footprint issues over time can have a beneficial impact on health by, for example, reducing emissions resulting in a more sustainable environment. I think the hand-held device you have outlined sounds like a very smart and innovative approach. It does a good job of showing the correlation between a more energy efficient home being a healthier home.

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