Too Hot? Too Cold? There’s an App For That!
This Spring, the Green Fund awarded four grants to Penn students, faculty, and staff to initiate innovative sustainability projects on campus: Green To Go Dining, Ben’s Attic Enhancements, Bike Repair Stations, and GreenVote.
The only student-lead project to receive a grant in this cycle, GreenVote is a mobile application in which users rate their thermal comfort levels while inside campus buildings. This data would be available in real-time to facility managers, enabling them to make better informed heating and cooling decisions that maximize building comfort and efficiency.
Created by rising M&T (Management and Technology) sophomores Benedikt Lotter, Karan Hiremath, and Arjun Jain, the idea for this crowd-sourced, energy conservation and management initiative was conceived during a PennApps hackathon. Mr. Lotter first heard about the Green Fund through his previous affiliation with CleanTech Penn.
GreenVote founders hope the app’s social media features will attract users. “The ability to view and comment on other people’s opinions and add your own should increase comfort and energy efficiency,” Mr. Lotter explains. “If you are able to change the environment around you, with the people around you, then that is a powerful feeling.”
While the current GreenVote prototype aggregates information such as temperatures, infrastructure complaints, and lighting within buildings, the project leaders are continually working to add features to improve their app.
GreenVote not only connects facility occupants and administrators, but also has the potential to assist buildings in achieving LEED certification. Rafael De Luna, Associate Director of Sustainability at Wharton Operations, hopes to implement GreenVote in Wharton’s LEED buildings as an advanced, pioneering tool for conducting occupant surveys. Mr. De Luna believes by “using an ongoing survey of thermal comfort in LEED buildings, we would set a trend…I haven’t found anything out there where they are using this type of survey.” Yearlong pilot programs of GreenVote are set to begin this summer in select Wharton and SEAS buildings.