The Greener Life: Keeping Score

Points to the greenest!. (Photo: Ian Muttoo [CC BY SA-2.0]/Flickr)

The world would be a greener place if it were more like a video game.

Humans like keeping score. We like ranking ourselves and we like doing better than the next guy over. We're competitors. We want to have the biggest house, the longest boat, and the most expensive private school tuition. We strive to have the lushest lawn, the best putt and the biggest pumpkins at the fair.

Why shouldn't we be competing to be the greenest?

Residents of Owatonna, Minn., are. The utility company serving the city sends a report with every bill that outlines, in easy to read chart form, how you're doing energy use wise compared to last year as well as how you rank up with 100 of your neighbors with similar sized homes. Maria Energia reports that requests for home energy audits and electricity monitors are both up in Owatonna. When Sacramento, Calif., started a similar program a few years ago they saw overall energy use drop.

We could do a lot more to harness our drive to be the best -- a smart energy grid could connect with web apps allowing people to share and compare a whole range of usage stats. Imagine if we could blast out our environmental footprint in an API. It could someday be the ultimate in green geek cred to have a verifiable carbon footprint in the lowest 1 percentile of your peer demographic.