Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Energy Department Launches Crowdsourcing Community to Bring More Innovators into the Mix

June 17, 2016

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Buildings and homes account for 40 percent of the country’s energy use—more than any other sector. That’s why the Energy Department’s Building Technologies Office is working closely with our national laboratories and industry partners to meet our goal of cutting energy use intensity 30 percent by 2030.

One new method we’re piloting is a crowdsourcing community called JUMP, or Join the Discussion; Unveil Innovation; Motivate transformation; Promote Tech-to-Market. JUMP is an open platform where any U.S. resident can submit their innovative ideas for improving building efficiency. Today, JUMP is hosting challenges co-sponsored by our national labs and industry partners such as Honeywell, Building Robotics, Clean Energy Trust, and Emerson Climate Technologies.

Crowdsourcing is a method of solving challenges through the contributions of multiple people—from any field—through an open, online platform. It may seem counterintuitive, but research shows that solutions to some of the most technical challenges can be found in completely different but analogous fields. In fact, a Harvard Business School study indicated the probability of solving tough scientific challenges is three times higher if a person’s field of expertise is seven degrees outside the domain of the problem.

JUMP provides opportunities for researchers and industry partners to coordinate and brainstorm with small businesses, innovators, and end users—potentially unlocking different solutions and reducing the time and money invested in the process. Five national labs, including Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), Argonne National Lab (ANL), National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), and the founding lab, Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), are supporting JUMP. By focusing the conversation around industry’s technical challenges, JUMP is accelerating the development and market introduction of energy-efficient technologies. Industry partners provide cash or in-kind awards for winning ideas, while the lab they partner with may provide in-kind technical support for validating, testing, and prototyping the winning ideas.

More than 720 users are registered on the JUMP crowdsourcing platform. Registering with JUMP is simple. After joining the platform, you’ll be informed about future technology challenges and other activities. Here’s our current list of open calls for innovation—take a look and share your best idea: