The Greener Home Competition
Fifty Longmont homeowners could get full-house makeovers. But that wouldn’t mean new couches, matching drapes and fresh paint.
These makeovers would include installing solar panels, wind turbines and data-control centers to manage energy use and safety systems.
Englewood-based DaVinci Quest is putting together a global contest to invite teams to design environmentally friendly smart homes — and then renovate 50 houses — for a “significant cash prize.”
And Longmont residents could be the beneficiaries if the company chooses Longmont as the host city.
“It’s kind of like ‘Extreme Home Makeover,’ only with 50 houses,” DaVinci Quest CEO Karl Dakin said. “What may be done to each one may be similar; it may be entirely different.”
The company’s “Greener House Contest” will kick off later this year, Dakin said. He expects DaVinci Quest to choose its host city within the next three months. The company then in early December will put out the call for teams to start designing.
Crews would start renovating and retrofitting houses next summer, likely between June and August, Dakin said.
The goal is that 50 teams will be matched with 50 homeowners who will give over their houses to be renovated to make them more energy efficient, safer and smarter.
If you build a house smart enough to manage energy, Dakin asked, why not build a house smart enough to manage other things as well, such as safety?
That could take many different forms, he said. For example, a system could alert firefighters that no one is inside a burning home or alert residents when the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch.
The contest criteria, so far, are:
- Reduce the house’s energy consumption and reduce the waste produced there.
- Produce and store energy, as well as store water, at the house.
- Enhance communications and telecommuting opportunities.
- Link the home with local safety departments.
- Operate the house as a system and connect it with available community systems.
- Spend no more than $25,000 on the renovation.
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DaVinci Quest is a spinoff of the DaVinci Institute, which Thomas Frey launched in 1997 in a small office on Main Street in Longmont. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Frey spent 15 years as an engineer and designer for IBM, where he received more than 270 awards.
The institute began as “a nonprofit futurist think tank,” according to its Web site, but soon morphed into an organization focused on tangible results: inventions, innovations, business concepts.
The institute began educating aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs to give them the skills to make their projects viable, according the Web site.
That is, in part, how DaVinci Quest came about, Dakin said. The affiliate is a for-profit social enterprise that is taking on global social problems by fostering innovations, he said.
“Problems in the world need to be solved, and we need new innovations to do that,” Dakin said.
DaVinci Quest plans to do that by creating a series of 10 competitions to focus resources — time, money, people, ideas — on issues such as energy consumption, health care, food supply and natural disasters.
And it’s doing it through a relatively new concept called “crowdsourcing,” which Dakin describes as “using the world as our research and development team.”
Instead of handing over a task to a panel of experts, DaVinci Quest puts out an open call for ideas. The Internet allows people from all over the world to “come at a problem in every way,” Dakin said.
“The potential wisdom of the crowd is greater than a bunch of smart people in a room,” he said.
Teams could be university faculty or government agencies — or just a random person who decides to take on the challenge.
“It can be anybody anywhere in the world,” Dakin said. “We want to involve as many people in the world as possible.”
But there has to be an incentive, a push, a reason for those faceless people in the global crowd to focus on one issue. Enter DaVinci Quest and its contests.
DaVinci designs the criteria for a contest and creates measurable objectives and metrics to determine who wins.
And the “Greener House Contest” is its first.
DaVinci Quest is limiting its search for a host city to Boulder County, in large part because of the countywide ClimateSmart program, Dakin said.
ClimateSmart helps residents and businesses invest in energy-efficient improvements by providing loans for more than 40 different energy-efficiency upgrades.
Dakin said DaVinci Quest plans to choose one city — rather than pick 50 homes scattered throughout Boulder County — to cut down on complications that would come with different building codes, plans, permits and programs.
DaVinci Quest is looking for a company to sponsor a “significant cash prize,” though the amount hasn’t been determined. It also is looking for companies to sponsor each of the 50 teams.
A team can be one or more people from any-where in the world. Each team would pay an entry fee, be matched with a homeowner and use local programs to finance renovation costs.
The city would function as the economic development partner to help provide support services and guide everyone through building code issues.
Dakin met with Longmont Area Economic Council president and CEO John Cody last week to discuss the economic development possibilities of having Longmont as host city for such a contest.
By Rachel Carter via TimesCall.com