Community News

City of Cambridge announces contest winners


In November of 2014, the City of Cambridge embarked upon a new community engagement process, partnering with the MIT Climate CoLab tocrowdsource creative ideas to combat the urban heat island effect in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thirty-three proposals offered creative ways to tackle the urban heat island effect in the City of Cambridge’s first Climate CoLab contest, which took place from November 2014 to April of this year. From painting zebra stripes on roofs (causing a wind effect) to using sculptural ceramic screens to produce evaporative cooling, the contest demonstrated the many ways that addressing the urban heat island effect can have additional benefits for city life than just decreasing temperatures.

City Manager Richard C. Rossi will hear from contest winners in late April. “Climate change is an enormous challenge for communities.  The City’s climate change vulnerability assessment tells us that heat vulnerability is a significant risk that we have to start addressing now,” said Rossi. The City of Cambridge seeks to increase the engagement of the community in our planning efforts. Given that we are just now launching into our Climate Change Preparedness planning effort, this contest came at the perfect time.

“The MIT Climate CoLab gave us a wonderful opportunity to engage the community in Cambridge andbeyond to develop new, innovative ideas to help us combat the local impacts of increasing temperatures.  The City was very pleased that the urban heat island contest generated a range of ideas, some of which we would not have come up with on our own.  I look forward to seeing some of the ideas come to fruition.  We appreciate very much all the effort that the participants put into this contest, which I think will make Cambridge a more resilient place,” stated the City Manager upon completion of the contest.

Tarek Rakha (MIT), Melissa Chan (Climate Protection Action Committee), Sara Hoverter (Georgetown Climate Center), David Sittenfeld (Museum of Science) and Mark Winterer (Recover Green Roofs) made up the panel of esteemed volunteer judges, who together have a vast range of expertise including: sustainability in the built environment, climate change communications, environmental health, citizen science, and green infrastructure development. The judges selected sixteen proposals to move on to the semi-final round and from there five finalists were chosen. All five exceptional finalists were selected as Judges’ Choice winners of the contest, and are now welcome to present their proposals formally to the City of Cambridge.

The five winning proposals are: “Cooling with Urban-Ecosystem Services”, “Variations on the Velarium”, “White Knights”, “Cold Spot: Evaporative Cooling through Ceramics”, and “Depave driveways and increase rain barrel irrigation”. The Popular Choice winner, selected by the public via the Climate CoLab platform, is “Cold Spot: Evaporative Cooling through Ceramics”.

The winners present their proposals to the City’s Climate Protection Action Committee on April 9, 2015, where overall favorites will be chosen to attend the 2015 MIT Climate CoLab Conference. Each of the winning proposals will be considered for inclusion in City of Cambridge planning efforts.

Winners presented their ideas to the City’s Climate Protection Action Committee last night.


Blog post provided by the City of Cambridge.