A video clip made by three graduate students in MIT's Leaders for Manufacturing Program is one of three finalists in a competition for ideas for a new environmental X Prize to be offered in the future. The winner will be determined by votes cast on its web site, and anyone can view the entries and cast a vote online.
Their YouTube video calls for a contest for the best overall reduction of energy use by a community (which could be a town, a neighborhood or a school district). Entrants could use any means at their disposal, from installing more efficient light bulbs or adding insulation to their walls to more creative energy-saving measures.
Team member Jonathan Dreher says their idea was based on the fact that a great deal of money and effort is being spent on devising new, cleaner ways to produce energy, but "not enough people are addressing the growing need to reduce our inefficient demand for energy.Â Though some Americans have started taking action on their own, we hope an X Prize based on our entry will provide the necessary incentive to get a majority of Americans to think about their excessive energy consumption habits."
While new energy technologies may take a decade or more to have an impact, he says, "Our prize proposal allows for immediate action at a massive scale, and allows everyday Americans to participate by simply making a trip to their local hardware store.Â The steps are simple and no change of lifestyle or sacrifice of comfort is necessary."Â Â
The three team members, Dreher, Jeremy Stewart and Michael Norelli, are students in the Leaders for Manufacturing Program, which is sponsored jointly by the Engineering Systems Division within MIT's School of Engineering and MIT Sloan School. Their video, as well as the other two finalists, can be seen at www.xprize.org/crazy-green-idea and viewers can vote for their favorite (though the foundation warns that excessive numbers of votes originating from a single IP address will not be counted). The winning team will receive a $25,000 prize, in addition to having their proposal considered for the creation of a new major X Prize award.
"We were inspired by the sheer number of ideas and inquiries from the YouTube community," said Peter H. Diamandis '83, SM '86, chairman of the X Prize Foundation. "Narrowing the list to three finalists was difficult, and now it's up to the public to decide which one is truly worthy of being explored as an X Prize in the area of energy and the environment."