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Urban Energy Efficiency

Submit proposals:
Rules: All entrants must agree to the 2015 Contest Rules. and Terms of Use.
Deadline: Saturday, June 13, 11:59 PM Eastern Time



The Urban Energy Efficiency Challenge is looking for solutions to tackle two crucial issues: energy efficiency and water access.


Theme 1: Energy Demand Side Management & Reducing Energy Waste


In booming cities energy demand is growing exponentially and the electrical infrastructure has difficulties keeping up. This leads to energy shortages and power outages. While new supply needs to be built, energy efficiency can offer some relief. Energy efficiency and demand side management can reduce the consumption growth rate and therefore reduce the increase in consumption to levels more manageable for the authority responsible for the energy infrastructure.


What are we looking for

We are looking for hardware, software or social innovations that can influence consumer behavior in order to reduce energy consumption and waste. Awareness is the first step towards energy efficiency therefore we are looking for solutions that lower the cost of energy audits and present clear reports on household energy consumption. Those solutions could leverage open data and data visualization tools.

Demand side management is also a promising sector, therefore we are looking for solutions that would allow electricity demand to adjust to variations in supply due to the introduction of intermittent electricity generated with the help of solar, wind or biomass gasification.

Other areas to explore include innovative business models and social media campaigns to incentive customers to reduce their consumption when the equilibrium between energy supply and demand is at risk.

Finally we are looking for technologies and materials to make home insulation and appliances more energy efficient.



  1. How might we provide residential and commercial consumers, as well as public administrations, with sufficient and affordable energy audits?

  2. How might we provide tools that would allow consumers to monitor their energy use more efficiently?

  3. How can we develop financing models that leverage the current financial behavior of customers?

  4. How might we collect and make use of energy and building sector data from utilities and the private sector?

  5. How might we support energy efficiency in commercial, residential and public buildings through enhanced building insulation at a lower cost?


Theme 2: Improving Access to Water and Reducing Wastage


In developing countries, many urban dwellers lack reliable access to drinking water. Many households are not connected to the water supply network, and even if you have service, water service can be unreliable. Tap water itself is not safe to drink without boiling or treating first.

One of the reasons for poor access to clean water is infrastructure. Water leakages can account for half of the water pumped by the local utility. Therefore reducing water wastage at the infrastructure and the household level could potentially multiply by 2 the water readily available. This will come from both behavioral change and more efficient infrastructure and appliances.

Behavioral change and adoption of new technologies, hardware, and appliances will reduce household water consumption. Consuming less water will in turn lower the financial burden of paying for water and free up water for other users, which is important for better living standards and economic growth.  


What are we looking for

We are looking for hardware, software or social innovation, which can improve water resource management.

Solutions should tackle the two main issues.  Water wastage should be reduced both at the household and infrastructure level.

Raising awareness of the consumer is essential to reduce wasteful uses and to incite the general population to participate and the efficient management of this precious resource.



  1. How can we use data to help consumers make better decisions about water consumption in real-time?

  2. How can we use data to help consumers make informed decisions about obtaining and using water?

  3. How can we help communities report and fix broken water points?

  4. How can we reduce water loss during distribution?

  5. How can we use data to improve the operation and maintenance of existing infrastructure?


Judging Criteria


Judges Choice winner will be awarded the best possible chance to give their ideas legs: a 3-week online bootcamp online. The program features trainers and mentors handpicked from the international tech scene. The Judges Choice winner will then be flown to Barcelona’s Smart City Expo Congress for D-Day (Demo Day, that is) to compete against the city finalists from Accra, Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro, and Dar es Salaam. At the Smart City Expo Congress, each finalist will pitch to the World Bank and mayors from all across the world.

Judges Choice and Popular Choice winners will also receive a special invitation to attend selected sessions at MIT’s SOLVE conference and present their proposals before key constituents in a workshop the next day, where a $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded. A few select Climate CoLab winners will join distinguished SOLVE attendees in a highly collaborative problem-solving session.