Last week at Ecobuild, at the end of his BIM and social media presentation (see EE post), Birmingham-based architect Rob Annable wondered if it might be possible to use energy usage monitoring tools such as Pachube in combination with social media as a way of creating energy efficiency competitions between building occupiers.
According to Earth2Tech (Green Social Network Startups Tap Competition to Fight Climate Change), there are already at least two US firms, Carbonrally and Climate Culture, that are aiming to use the power of social networks on the web to tackle climate change. Carbonrally is already working on a project with US teen magazine, Seventeen, to create – at this stage, not particularly challenging – competitions to take actions to reduce carbon emissions, while Climate Culture is targeting university students to get them to pledge to reduce emissions.
And late last month, AMEE (like Rob and Pachube, a participant in Be2camp 2008) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers announced the launch of a Facebook application, Carbon Bigfoot by PwC, that enables environmentally conscious individuals to calculate their carbon footprint based upon three metrics: shelter, commute and devices. The application can be automatically added to Facebook status updates and shared among friends. Users can also compare their carbon footprint with friends and exchange ideas to lessen their environmental impact.
While the Web 2.0/Generation Y cohort are more likely to incorporate carbon-cutting actions into their online social networking, these initiatives currently sound a little superficial. Wouldn’t it be better if these challenges were monitored to see what measurable reductions were actually being achieved? Maybe Usman Haque and his Pachube colleagues should approach these firms and/or their competition partners and offer some support? Maybe there’s scope for similar campaigns run by UK organisations that could build on the US efforts to embrace social networks and give some demonstrable emission reductions?