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Press Release: Grand Prize Winners Announced at MIT Climate Change Conference



Grand Prize Winners Announced at MIT Climate Change Conference

Crowdsourced ideas to address climate change honored at today’s conference.

CAMBRIDGE, MA – The Climate CoLab, a project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), uses online contests to find innovative, new ways to address global climate change.  Today, the Grand Prize and Honorable Mention winners were announced at the Climate CoLab’s 2014 conference.

Grand Prize and Honorable Mention awardees:  Sardar Mohazzam, Kathleen Saul, Job Taminiau, Anne-Marie Soulsby and Danielle Dahan.  (Adele Morris not pictured.) Photo by Dominck Reuter

The Grand Prize winner, Danielle Dahan, took home the $10,000 award for her proposal, Improve Building Energy Performance: Green Job Skills Training, which addresses the shortage of qualified personnel to maintain the increasingly sophisticated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems installed in green buildings today.

“As high performance green buildings increase in complexity,” Dahan writes in her proposal, “we need to give building technicians the skills to maintain buildings and achieve high performance energy goals.”  The curriculum, when in full motion, is projected to save 33 trillion metric tons of carbon each year in the United States alone.

Honorable Mention awards were given to three proposals:

A Carbon Tax in Pro-Growth Fiscal Reform, by Adele Morris, Fellow and Policy Director of the Climate and Energy Economics Project at the Brookings Institution.  She proposes a carbon tax that creates pro-growth tax reform, while also protecting the poor and reducing the deficit.

A Collaborative Solutions Communication Platform, by Anne-Marie Soulsby and Mandolin Dotto Kahindi, of Tanzania.  The proposal presents Tunza Kwa Faida (Benefits for All), a platform that combines a radio show and two-way text messaging to help coastal Tanzanians increase their resilience to climate change.

Democratic Finance: Energy Of the People, By the People, For the People, by Job Taminiau, Gordon Schweitzer, Kathleen Saul and Sardar Mohazzam, a group from the United States, Netherlands, and Pakistan.  They propose installing community-funded solar projects on unused federal rooftop space, which, they predict could mitigate millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

These proposals were selected by a prominent team of experts:  Robert Armstrong, Director of the MIT Energy Initiative; Hazel Markus, Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University; and Richard Schmalensee, the Howard W. Johnson Professor and Dean, Emeritus, at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

The Grand Prize winner and Honorable Mention awardees were selected from the 34 proposals that won individual Climate CoLab contests.  The winning proposals were submitted by scientists, non-profit organizations, researchers, entrepreneurs, students, and concerned citizens. The contests ran throughout 2014 and covered a wide range of topics, including transportation efficiency, changing social attitudes and behavior, decarbonizing energy supply, adapting to climate change, land use, urban resilience, and others.

All the winners were recognized at the Climate CoLab’s conference, Crowds & Climate: From Ideas to Action, held this week at MIT. The conference focused on how creative new ideas to tackle climate change can be translated into meaningful action.  As a key part of the event, attendees and a set of guest experts worked with the 2014 winners to identify specific actions that can be taken to advance these innovative proposals.

Additionally, the conference featured keynote addresses by Anthony Leiserowitz of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and Jeremy Grantham of the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.  Plenary panels included speakers from business, government and the non-profit sector — including Lockheed Martin, Braemar Energy Ventures, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Defense Fund, and the City of Boston– who have launched climate change initiatives that are making a difference today.

“This year’s winners came from 17 countries and from a very diverse set of people,” says Laur Fisher, the Climate CoLab’s Community and Partnerships Manager. “Winners were researchers in Singapore, software engineers in Japan, entrepreneurs in the Netherlands, and community organizers working across Germany, Kenya and the United States.  We are very proud of them.”

“With the Climate CoLab project, our hope is to engage the entire world – not just experts – in developing creative and effective solutions to address the climate change challenge,” says Professor Thomas Malone, director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, and principal investigator for the Climate CoLab.  “And our winners represent that.  Our community now has more than 30,000 members and is doubling or tripling in size with each round of contests. As the community continues to grow, we hope to engage even more smart, creative people from around the globe.”

The Climate CoLab team would also like to give thanks to the 2014 contest Judges who supported the selection of the Grand Prize and Honorable Mention winners:  Alex Ayett, Joshua Freed, Harvey Michaels, Fabio Mondini, Silvia Pariente David and Ariana Sutton-Grier.

For more information, please visit:

Climate CoLab:
Crowds & Climate Conference:
All Winners:
Grand Prize Winner proposal:
Honorable Mention, Democratic Finance:
Honorable Mention, A Carbon Tax in Pro-Growth Fiscal Reform:
Honorable Mention, A collaborative solutions communication platform:

Press Contact:  Laur Fisher, MIT Climate CoLab