Danielle Dahan has been named the Grand Prize winner of this year’s Climate CoLab, a project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that uses online contests to find creative new ways to address global climate change.
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 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.