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NREL Announces Innovation Challenge Winner for Crowdsourced Residential Buildings Energy-Efficiency Ideas

October 19, 2016

The Energy Department's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today announced the grand prize winner in the JUMP Smart Phone Call for Innovation. Industry partner CLEAResult provided a $3,000 prize and recognized the winner, selected by a panel of judges at the JUMP finals, during their Energy Forum in Austin, Texas, which was attended by more than 200 utility executives and industry representatives.

Charles Xie, with the Concord Consortium in Concord, Massachusetts, won with the submission titled "Application to Create Infrared Street View."

"Xie's innovation combines existing infrared camera attachments for smartphones and crowdsourcing through school programs to create thermal maps of neighborhoods," NREL Senior Engineer Lieko Earle said. "This application will identify anomalies such as urban heat islands and targets for energy-efficiency upgrades."

Xie will be awarded the cash prize as well as technical assistance in commercializing his smartphone application.

This innovation challenge was focused on ideas and topics related to residential buildings. Participants submitted original ideas to the JUMP crowdsourcing website, and five finalists were selected by the judges to present their concepts at the CLEAResult Energy Forum in front of the utility executives. The other finalists were:

  • "unVolt - The Energy Saving Application" by Shariq Ali
  • "Smartphones as Residential Energy Management Systems" by Justin Doh
  • "EnergyABC Monster Game - Awareness Behavior Commitment" by Yang Gao
  • "Consumer Alerts From Local Water Utilities to Impact Energy Use" by Carter Wall

"We were impressed by the diversity and thoughtfulness of the solutions put forth from all of the finalists," said CLEAResult's Emily Kemper, a judge on the panel. "Ultimately, the judges felt that Xie's idea to use existing infrared technology would engage new participants in energy-efficiency programs in an immediate and impactful way."

JUMP, launched by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) last year, is an online crowdsourcing community that is co-hosted by NREL, ORNL and three other DOE national laboratories, as well as top companies and organizations in the buildings industry. JUMP stands for Join in the discussion, Unveil innovation, Motivate transformation and Promote technology-to-market. This platform provides an opportunity for innovators, particularly small entrepreneurs, to present ideas for new energy-efficient buildings technologies to private- and public-sector leaders in research and development. 

For this innovation challenge, NREL partnered with CLEAResult. CLEAResult, headquartered in Austin, is a provider of energy-efficiency programs and services in North America. CLEAResult designs and manages energy optimization services for utility companies, as well as for residential, institutional, commercial and industrial organizations.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.


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