The winner (could) take it all... - MIT ClimateCoLab crowdsourcing competition

Sep 10, 2013

imageEnergy efficient retrofitted household in Bijelo Polje, Montenegro; Photo credits: UNDP Montenegro


UNDP Montenegro’s proposal - Energy Efficiency Formalization - won both the popular prize (most votes) and judges’ prize (expert review) in the Building Efficiency contest at the MIT’s ClimateCoLab crowdsourcing competition for the most innovative solutions to climate change!  

We are thankful to all who supported us, especially those who cast a vote for our proposal (overall, out of 379 proposals in 18 categories, we received the second highest number of votes). But it is the judges’ comments and review of our proposal (check out some of the experts who reviewed our idea) that gives us a real push for what’s coming next.  

And that is… Our team will pitch the idea at the November 6-7th Crowds and Climate Conference to the potential investors and in a bid for a Grand Prize of $10,000.  

In the end, let me reflect briefly on what motivated us to submit the proposal to this type of a competition in the first place:

•    Project’s impact in Montenegro. This type of a solution (to the best of our knowledge) has never been used anywhere in the world previously: using energy efficiency measures to incentivize citizens to legalize their homes. People living in informal settlements can obtain a title to their homes, improve their standard of living, and save money on their energy bills. From the government’s perspective, the idea will generate new jobs and revenues, and impact positively energy consumption and national carbon footprint (at least initially, not counting the rebound effect).  

•    Project’s impact globally. As far as energy management goes, energy efficiency is hands down among the most effective, win-win all around approaches available but it has yet to translate into a global movement that has builders, financiers, and citizens on the same page. The model behind this idea could provide a necessary nudge or rather a magnet that not only binds these different groups together toward a common goal (energy efficiency) but gets them thinking about a shifting paradigm of turning buildings  from energy consumers to energy providers (we’ve already talked to our colleagues at Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership on this topic).

•    New partnerships with unlikely allies. The new technology-enabled approaches (crowdsourcing, social media, big data) would help us profile our work far more effectively than the traditional methods, solicit feedback on how to improve the idea, and connect us with potential investors. Participating in the ClimateCoLab’s competition helped us do all three.

Submitting this idea to ClimateCoLab has been an interesting experiment for us. Curiously, the way I found out about this competition is through running another experiment- live tweeting from a conference in Montenegro almost 2 years ago. A lesson? Nothing groundbreaking here, but technology can play a powerful enabling role and even a playing field in a way that an idea coming from a country slightly smaller than Connecticut with a population of around 615,000 citizens could have a truly global reach. And that’s something to be very excited about!

Written by Milica Begovic Radojevic, PhD
Team Leader Economy and Environment / Knowledge and Innovation Specialist
United Nations Development Programme