An online resource for designing a better world.

Announcing Our New Feature Series: “Linking Energy to Impact”

September 8, 2015

“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, environmental health, social fairness and opportunity,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the 2013 World Energy Congress in Korea, affirming his pledge to give a billion more people access to sustainable energy by 2030. Few of us would argue with the sentiment, or consider it anything but a noble and vital cause. But for half of the people on earth, that “golden thread” is frayed, if it exists for them at all. Though counted among the connected, two and a half billion people deemed to have access face persistent blackouts and unreliable sources of power. Another one and a half billion have no access to modern electricity whatsoever. And yet half the energy that flows among those who do is ultimately wasted. This is an equation that cries out for action.

From personal perspectives to project case studies, this month’s feature series on energy seeks to highlight those who are taking on that challenge of improving access, eliminating excess, and fundamentally transforming the dynamics of global equity in the process. Change comes in many forms. It can be as expansive as creating entirely new infrastructures to power a whole hemisphere and as commonplace as a revolving door. It can be as concrete as a long-life battery and as abstract but vital as tapping into the creative energy of designers, harnessing their ideals to make real impact.

Through our talented contributors, we’ve sought to balance these perspectives and provide both breadth and depth to the understanding of energy, access and innovation. Michael Floyd of Autodesk’s Making for Impact initiative will give us a view from the eco-hacking inventor’s camp POC21 in Paris highlighting the efforts of designers, makers, and engineers to create open-source, zero-emission products. Writer and designer Andrew Shea examines how we might cut down on wasted energy in the developed world by changing our everyday behaviors. And Cheryl Heller of of SVA’s Design for Social Innovation Program and Core77 reminds us that human energy is as crucial a resource as electrical charge.

Our hope is that these and the other pieces in Linking Energy To Impact will serve to move the conversation forward and inspire deep thought and meaningful action on how to change the global flow of energy and access. But for that we need your help … What projects are you working on to create greater equity in energy? What’s wrong with current approaches and what can we do to make them right? Let us know your thoughts, tell us your stories, share your bright ideas. You can write a comment below or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you, and we hope you enjoy the series!

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Continue With More Articles in This Feature

Designing for Human Energy as a Precious Resource

September 9, 2015
Depending on your job, your political persuasion and where you call home, the word “energy,” conjures images of solar panels, windmills, gas stations or coal mines. Or, it can bring to mind oil spills and... Read More

Micro-Power! Making An Impact on Millions One Home at a Time  

September 16, 2015
In Northern Thailand farmers tend their terraced fields by hand and make do without cell phone service, yet a growing number now light their homes with LED lamps and draw their power from solar panels.... Read More

An Energy Revolution At Your Doorstep

September 23, 2015
Each rotation of a revolving door generates enough electricity to power a 60-watt light bulb for 23 minutes. Revolving doors also equalize indoor temperatures, save lots of money, and reduce carbon output. So why do... Read More

Eco-Hacking: Open-Source Solutions for Energy Access

September 30, 2015
By Michael Floyd On August 15, 2015, scores of makers, engineers, designers, and mentors began to arrive at a 16th Century chateau west of Paris for five weeks of open source eco-hacking. Their goal: to... Read More

No Penalty for Poverty: A Conversation with Hugh Whalan

October 7, 2015
Hugh Whalan has started three businesses in Africa focused on innovative financing of solar power to some of the poorest consumers on the planet. His first company pioneered crowdfunding for energy loans to the developing... Read More