The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the winners of its Apps for the Environment challenge, which encouraged new and innovative uses of EPA's data to create apps that address environmental and public health issues. Developers from across the country created apps with information about everything from energy efficient light bulbs to local air quality. A few even developed games to help people learn environmental facts.
"Innovators from across the country have used information to help people protect our health and the environment," said Malcolm Jackson, EPA's Chief Information Officer. "The winners of the Apps for the Environment challenge demonstrate that it's possible to transform data from EPA and elsewhere into applications that people can use."
The five winners are:
- Winner, Best Overall App: Light Bulb Finder by Adam Borut and Andrea Nylund of EcoHatchery, Milwaukee, Wis.
- Runner Up, Best Overall App: Hootroot by Matthew Kling of Brighter Planet, Shelburne, Vt.
- Winner, Best Student App: EarthFriend by Ali Hasan and Will Fry of Differential Apps and Fry Development Company, Mount Pleasant High School in Mount Pleasant, N.C. and J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, N.C.
- Runner Up, Best Student App: Environmental Justice Participatory Mapping by Robert Sabie, Jr. of Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash.
- Popular Choice Award: CG Search by Suresh Ganesan of Cognizant Technology Solutions, South Plainfield, N.J.
One of the apps is the Light Bulb Finder mobile app, which makes it easy to switch from incandescent to energy-efficient light bulbs. It empowers users to make informed decisions based on their lighting needs and the financial and environmental impact of their choices. Using the app, the typical American home can cut their annual electricity bill by over $120 and environmental impact by 1,360 lbs. CO2.
The Light Bulb Finder app is intuitive and easy to use. Based on simple inputs about home fixtures and incandescent bulb styles, the app instantly recommends energy-efficient bulbs with the right fit, appearance and quality. For each recommendation, the app displays a bulb image, specifications, energy and dollar savings, and CO2 emissions reductions. Users can purchase energy-saving bulbs through the app or at local retailers.
The app addresses a growing need in the U.S. as new efficiency standards for light bulbs start phasing in from January 2012. The new standards will save the U.S. more than $12.5 billion annually when fully implemented in 2020 and eliminate the need for 33 large power plants, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Light Bulb Finder is available as a free download on iPhone, iPad touch, iPod and Android smartphones.
All contestants will retain intellectual property rights over their submissions, though winners agree that their submissions will be available on the EPA website for free use and download by the public for a period of one year following the announcement of the winners.
For more information, see our Energy Efficient Lighting research center.