Community News

Press Release: Grand Prize Winner Announced 2016



MIT Project Awards Innovative Climate Proposals, Presents

$10,000 Prize

Climate CoLab uses a crowd-based approach to surface high potential proposals

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – This week MIT’s Climate CoLab honored 27 climate change projects at its conference on the MIT campus. The winners presented business models, social enterprises, public engagement campaigns, digital tools, and other work that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions or help the world adapt to anticipated climate change impacts.

Climate CoLab is a global online community of over 75,000 people who collaborate and compete through a series of interrelated contests focused on different aspects of the climate change problem. From the twenty-seven contest winners of 2016, an esteemed panel of Judges selected one $10,000 Grand Prize winner and three Honorable Mentions to the Grand Prize.

Elizabeth Sheehan of Climate Smart received the $10,000 Grand Prize from Climate CoLab founder, Prof. Thomas Malone. Photo credit: David Sella

The Vancouver, BC company Climate Smart took home this year’s $10,000 Grand Prize for its Business Energy and Emissions Profile (BEEP) Dashboard, a carbon mapping tool that connects cities and businesses working to cut carbon emissions.

The Dashboard’s data visualization features help cities understand their energy usage and carbon emissions by industry and business type, allowing officials to more effectively engage with the private sector to reduce emissions.

“We’re deeply humbled and inspired by this recognition,” said Elizabeth Sheehan, Climate Smart President and CEO. “Cities are the front lines in the climate challenge, yet often have limited resources. Our software helps them get the most bang for their buck, so they can be more effective in their work.”

The three Honorable Mention proposals are:

  • Benjamin Huber and Juna Shrestha, two researchers from Switzerland and Nepal who developed a project to help rice farmers in Nepal adopt a low-methane growing method.
  • James Gula, a retired Intel engineer who proposed using a franchise model to deploy locally-owned and operated microgrids in developing countries. This model can help the 1.2 billion people who live without electricity today more quickly access energy at scale.
  • Nishaant Sangaavi and Alex Corneglio, entrepreneurs who built My Energy Xpert, an online tool that helps home and small-building owners conduct a cheap, 15-minute energy audit. On average, their current users accept 70% of their retrofit recommendations, achieving an average of 25% in energy savings.


Grand Prize and 2 Honorable Mention Award winners at the Crowds & Climate Conference. Left to right:  Elizabeth Sheehan and Anastasia Lukyanova of Climate Smart; James Gula of Franchised Microgrids; Benjamin Huber and Juna Shrestha of the low-methane rice farming proposal.  Missing: Nishaant Sangaavi and Alex Corneglio of My Energy Xpert. Photo credit: David Sella

The Grand Prize Judges included Adil Najam, Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University; Janos Pasztor, Senior Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Change and a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs; and Elke Weber, Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Princeton University.

All the 2016 winners were recognized at the fourth Crowds & Climate conference, held this week alongside Boston’s HUBweek with a joint session with MIT’s Solve program. Crowds & Climate brought together representatives from businesses, non-profit organizations, governments, and communities around the world to help advance a new, collective way of tackling climate change.

These contests contribute to the overall goal of Climate CoLab, which is to use crowd-based approaches to help build detailed and effective climate change action plans, like those developed by countries as part of the UN Paris Agreement.

“Our hope is to open up the elite conference rooms and meeting halls where climate strategies are developed today and allow anyone with a good idea to contribute,” says Prof. Thomas Malone, director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at the MIT Sloan School of Management and founder of Climate CoLab.

“This year’s winners represent innovative, exciting work being done around the world to address climate change, and demonstrate how we can use our global collective intelligence to tackle important societal problems like this one.”


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Contact: Laur Hesse Fisher, Climate CoLab Project Manager