Implementing an on-line energy reduction game
As Mark Rembert was preparing to leave Philadelphia for his time as a Peace Corps volunteer, he discovered that there was a humanitarian crisis in his hometown also calling him to action, but in a way he never anticipated.
In 2008, at the onset of the Great Recession, DHL—the region’s largest single source of employment—announced it was ending its operations in Wilmington, OH. Knowing that his community would be changed forever by the news, Mark returned home for the final months before his Peace Corps assignment, teamed with Peace Corps veteran Taylor Stuckert, and the two founded Energize Clinton County (ECC), a non-profit community economic development organization with an aim to plug the leaks in the local economy.
“One of our key target areas of wealth loss has been energy waste,” he explained. “Each year, our small community sends millions of dollars to utility companies that could be invested in our local businesses, non-profits, churches, and schools. Yet, each household has many opportunities to reduce energy waste, save money, and help the environment.”
ECC’s collaboration with the University of Dayton has in part resulted in the development of the innovative Dropoly platform: an on-line energy reduction game that assesses the energy savings potential of households, serves up targeted behavioral changes (including both low-cost and extensive improvement suggestions), then allows users to weigh strategies and improvements based on their monetary and carbon dioxide savings.
Mark used his TogetherGreen fellowship to expand the Dropoly platform in a variety of ways, including refining user interface to insure that it is as accessible as possible to users of all ages and computer abilities, creating tools to assist conservation leaders in other communities to effectively use the platform, and helping households reduce carbon emissions, save money, and invest in the community. He partnered with the City of Wilmington to send informational fliers with utility bills, reaching over 2,000 residential customers.
Mark also plans to expand the program’s reach through the College of Wilmington, creating a contest between faculty, sorority and fraternity houses to reduce energy consumption. In addition, he hopes that canvassing and local partnerships will help to further Dropoly and its impact in the future.