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Winners’ Spotlight: Winning 25°C team meets with Argentinian President


Climate CoLab Winners, the IBTA Kiri Team,
meet Argentine President & Minister of the Environment

Two members of the ITBA Kiri Team, Marco Esposito & Lucia Osimani accept congratulations from Mr. Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina

The “Kiri” team proved that an idea does not have to be overly complicated in order to have relevant potential for impact in addressing climate change. Comprised primarily of engineering students, the team found a way to save significant energy by increasing the efficiency of air conditioners.

The inspiration for the idea arose from team member, Aylin Vázquez Chenlo’s, observations on air conditioner use at home. She noted, “My parents would go to sleep while having set the air conditioning system on its lowest level and would then cover themselves up with blankets.” She explained other experiences where “it was so cold that one couldn’t stay inside for too long. I looked at the air conditioner and I saw that it was set on 16 degrees (61°F).” It was then that she discovered her idea, she told the Argentinian newspaper “La Nacion.”

And so emerged the idea that setting a minimum temperature of air conditioning systems to 25°C (77°F) could prevent energy waste, which would increase efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. This small change has the potential for large impact. Simply changing the temperature from 23 °C (73.4°F) to 24°C (75.2°F) increases energy savings from 4% to 14%. So, why 25°C? Researchers found out that 25°C feels comfortable for most people.

Her idea blossomed when she attended the class of Professor Eduardo Fracassi, who leads the Climate Change Awareness Initiative of the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA). Guided by her professor, Aylin and her “Kiri” team — named after a Chinese tree that is able to absorb ten times more carbon dioxide (CO2) than other plants — further developed the idea and submitted a comprehensive proposal to the MIT Climate CoLab. Their proposal was selected as the Judges’ and Popular Choice winner in the 2016 Climate CoLab Industry contest.

Aylin’s idea may sound simple at first, but it would require some sophisticated next steps to be realized. Afterall, it is not easy to change the behavior of millions of people around the world to no longer set their air conditioners below 25°C. But Aylin and her team came up with a unique approach: instead of trying to change the behavior of millions of individual people, the team aims to shift the paradigm of a whole industry by promoting policy implementation to advance the idea. The proposal suggests utilizing governmental and intergovernmental actions, supported by NGOs and political institutions, to introduce the new 25°C policy to the industrial sector and regulatory frameworks.

Only recently completed, the 25°C proposal has already received great attention from both the media and politicians in Argentina. The team was invited to meet the President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, and the Minister of the Environment, to present their innovative idea.

Photo right: Students with the Kiri Team  meeting with Argentine President, Mauricio Macri 

This September the team also traveled to Cambridge, MA to present their work at the MIT Crowds & Climate Conference. You can watch their presentation here, and learn more about the event here. Immediately after the conference, team lead, Eduardo Fracassi, presented their work before the Latin American Systems Dynamics Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he sought to share the team’s experiences in engaging with Climate CoLab.

What are the next steps for the team? In order to further realize their idea, they are already working on a prototype to upgrade existing air conditioning systems with intelligent functions and a smart phone connection, which they hope to popularize in Argentina and beyond

The Kiri Team with Argentine President. From left to right: Jose Luis Roces, ITBA Rector, Martina Rotondo, Alan Segovia Roitman, Eduardo Fracassi, Marco Esposito, Lucia Osimani, Mauricio Macri, Mariano Redel, Melina Piacentino, Marina Fuster, Aylin Vazquez Chenlo, Victoria Hyde Lord, Lucia Montoya, Juan Carlos Majoan President of ITBA Governance.

The Kiri Team:

The team is comprised of 14 engineers, and 9 undergraduate students, and coordinated by Eduardo Fracassi, Leader of the ITBA Climate Change Awareness Initiative. The full team is:

  1. Eduardo Fracassi, Leader of the ITBA Climate Change Awareness Initiative, Coordinator of the Kiri Team & Climate Interactive Ambassador

  2. Fabian Szulanski, Expert in System Dynamics, Innovation and Coaching

  3. Miguel Aguirre, Director of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Careers at ITBA

  4. Daniel Jacoby, Engineer, building the “Intermediate Intelligent Controller” prototype

  5. Nicolas Magliola, Engineer, building the “Intermediate Intelligent Controller” prototype

  6. Ruben Lakatos, Engineer, HVAC expert

  7. Arturo De Zan, Engineer

  8. Federico Ferrando, Engineering student, psychrometric charts and relative humidity

  9. Silvia Kavanagh, Lawyer, media advice

  10. Abhishek Jain, Engineer from India, air conditioner energy savings formula

  11. Alan Segovia, Engineer in the Argentine Government on energy efficiency issues

  12. Nicolas Brown, Engineer, Buenos Aires City Environment Protection Agency, APRA

  13. Jesus Barrios, Engineer, psychrometric charts and relative humidity

  14. Hector Natera, Engineer, psychrometric charts and relative humidity

  15. Aylin Vázquez Chenlo, Bioengineering

  16. Marina Fuster, Bioengineering

  17. Lucia Montoya, Chemical Engineering

  18. Victoria Hyde Lord, Industrial Engineering

  19. Melina Piacentino, Bioengineering

  20. Marco Esposito, Bioengineering

  21. Mariano Redel, Bioengineering

  22. Martina Rotondo, Industrial Engineering

  23. Lucia Osimani, Bioengineering

Honorary member of the Kiri Team: The President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri

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