With climate change on many minds, cities around the world have affirmed their dedication to improving sustainability efforts. To help with that, Google recently unveiled the Environmental Insights Explorer, which overlays emissions data and efficiency analyses atop a city’s Google map.
So far, the tool’s beta version has been rolled out in five cities: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Melbourne, Australia; Victoria, Canada; and, in the US, Pittsburgh and Mountain View, California. The project will collaborate with more cities to bring additional data into the fold.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others, and research has shown that social norms can be used to promote energy conservation. Dan Yates and Alex Laskey built their software company Opower (now part of Oracle) on this premise. Opower works with utility companies to send customers reports about their home’s energy consumption relative to similar homes, along with tips to improve their numbers. Since its launch in 2008, the program has, on average, led to a 2% to 5% increase in energy savings, saved over $1 billion in household energy costs, and cut 13 billion lbs of CO2 emissions, according to a recent report in Perspectives on Psychological Science (paywall).
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