Project Link: BeGreen

Video Link: Demo

1. The Problem

  • The unwavering growth of social media in the last decade stems from people's desire to connect with one another. Unlike the old days when hangouts have to be scheduled days in advance, friends are now one tap away from each other's company. Due to the nature of social media, people are more active when their friends are also online. This means that internet usage can fluctuate sharply by the hour, or even by the minute, bringing forth arduous challenges for carbon-aware software. Instead of developing software to accommodate these social media funneled fluctuations, we decided to embrace it

2. What does your solution do?

  • Rather than thinking of peak internet usage hours as a time to avoid, we, on the flip side, believe it is the time to drive maximum impact. Our solution is BeGreen, a social media platform that makes carbon-reducing activities fun and interactive. During peak usage hours, when energy is the most expensive and dirty, users receive green challenges - such as closing unused browser tabs or turning off unnecessary LED decorations. Upon completion of quick green tasks, users can share their feat with friends and see how other people are tackling these challenges. Incorporating elements of social media into our platform will incentivize people to participate in these challenges and spread awareness.  

  • Our solution from the user's perspective:
    1. Users sign up on our platform with their emails
    2. Users get small green challenges from a variety of topics every day
    3. Users upload pictures upon finishing the challenges and interact with their friends

  • Our solution in the back-end:
    1. Call the Green Software Foundation API to retrieve forecast data and find out what time energy is the dirtiest. 
    2. Authenticate with Google Calendar API.
    3. Insert calendar events and reminders directly to the user-provided email.
    4. Provide platform for users to upload pictures and interact with friends via likes and comments based on each challenge

3. How does your solution use the API / SDK?

  • Thanks to the API provided by Green Software Foundation, our platform retrieves forecast data every night to determine when energy will be the least environmentally friendly. The forecast data inform us on when we should set the challenges for each day. 

4. What is the impact of your solution?

  • There are many applications out there that provide green activity suggestions but how many are aware of the timing? Incorporating carbon efficiency data, our platform starts challenges at times when energy is the dirtiest to drive the most impact. Carbon reducing activities generate the  most impact when energy usage is high. Rather than increasing linearly, carbon emissions and prices climb increasingly faster as power grids start using more nonrenewable resources. Instead of planning around internet usage spikes, our solutions fights it it straight on.
  • Case Study: there are only 10k+ downloads for this green activities application but a new social media app BeReal garnered over 14.5M downloads in less than 2 years. We are in a social media-dominated time and our technology has to adapt to that demand.
  • It is slightly counter-intuitive to be encouraging online activities when internet usage is already at its highest. However, from another angle, we are incentivizing people to move away from other platforms - such as Netflix - that consume a lot more energy. Further, we believe the collective carbon we can reduce from people participating in small green challenges will far outweigh the amount of carbon emitted from running our platform. The amount of carbon reduced by each person might not be significant, but we have the potential to generate a far outreach that will make the overall impact monumental.
  • By encouraging users to take on these small green challenges, we are also raising awareness around the importance of timing with carbon emissions and green energy. 

5. Describe your solution’s feasibility

  • The current POC is functional and can pop up Google calendar reminders automatically on users' phones and laptops. Users are able to check in to challenges and post their pictures to interact with their friends.
  • With more time and funding, we can realistically bring the platform to production and run it on the cloud within weeks. In this day and age, products and news can spread over the internet faster than ever. As long as we mature and solidify our platform, it can start generating impact by next year. 

6.  Describe the vision for your solution.

  • Engagement: activities that are "green" are often associated with inconvenience and tedium, but we look to change that. With more open-ended prompts and interactive features on the platform, we aim to make green activities fun and memorable. 
  • User/Group catered challenges: an essential aspect of our mission is to make green activities fun for both the user and their friends. It is hard to follow through with challenges if the topic of the prompt or the timing is not actionable. Utilizing ML and statistical models for topic and timing recommendations can greatly improve the user experience. 
  • Alternative Applications: our back-end fully integrates and automates the carbon-aware API with google calendar events. We can determine when we want to send out emails or calendar events based on carbon-aware timing. In the future, large enterprises sending out event invitations to a massive email list can consider adopting a carbon-aware, API-driven approach like our solution. 

7.  Prototype URL and GitHub repositories

8.  User Scenarios

Splash Screen

Home page to view challenges available for the day

User has not posted for a particular challenge

User taking photo for their post

User adding caption for their post

User viewing posts for a challenge sorted by newest

User viewing posts for a challenge sorted by number of likes