This morning, Synapse welcomed visiting speaker Carrie Armel from the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford to speak to our students about her work with the Stanford Energy Behavior Initiative. In addition to her work there, she is also a founding chairperson of the BECC conference.
Inspired by a Model UN project she worked on in 8th grade, in which she was exposed to significant problems the world faced, Armel has spent her life working to become a change maker. During her search to become just that, Armel became interested in studying human behavior to see how behaviors can be influenced to improve the human impact on this planet.
The Precourt Energy and Efficiency Center has worked on twenty projects funded by ARPA-E.
The first project Armel shared with our students was one called The Energy Whisperer, a digital media project featuring character Sergio Outletta, the Energy Whisperer, and his sidekick Thermie. Armel’s team collaborated with Free Range Studios in Oakland, Bidgely Inc, Habitable, and City of Palo Alto Utility to build this interactive program that teaches people easy ways to save energy by fixing or replacing bad appliances. The program engages people in watching “appisodes”, interactive tv episodes that prompt people to take the necessary steps to conserve energy in their homes. Each appisode targets a specific behavior that the team would like to see people change. To make it easier for audiences to act on these energy improvements, the app completes challenging steps like populating an amazon order to purchase more energy efficient lightbulbs. A few days later, when the lightbulb is scheduled to arrive, the app then sends a follow-up reminder with humorous commentary on the steps for changing the bulb.
Check out The Energy Whisperer Trailer here.
Other programs created as a part of this initiative included a lottery in Singapore in which people were asked to shift their commuting times to periods of lighter traffic congestion so that drivers weren’t in their cars for long periods of time and could reduce carbon emissions from gas.
A third program that Armel discussed with our students was a partnership with Girl Scouts of America. This program, called GLEE (Girls Learning Environment and Energy), engages girls in creating videos for their parents and other adults with tips for how to save energy. Since about one in two women in the U.S. are either currently involved or have been involved in Girl Scouts, this was an effective program for reaching a large number of people.
Just as Armel was influenced by her experience in Model UN as a child, it is our hope to foster in our students that same desire to become change makers. We are so grateful for the time that passionate change makers, like Carrie Armel, offer to our school community.