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Brian Huyser - One Billion Bulbs

Ankita

Ankita

 Updated: 14 Dec 2006

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Bulb

CEans!
You know how many engineers it takes to change a bulb. But how about changing One Billion Bulbs? CrazyEngineers is proud to have Brian Huyser (founder of Symmetric Technologies Inc., USA), the man who is all set to change One Billion Bulbs!

Brian talked to CrazyEngineers about project One Billion Bulbs. Read on…

CE: Hi Brian, can you brief us about the One Billion Bulbs project?

Brian: One Billion Bulbs hopes to convince a large number of people that changing a light bulb can be an effective way to save money and fight global warming. The OneBillionBulbs.com web site educates visitors about the environmental and cost-saving benefits of replacing standard, incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving CFL light bulbs. It asks everyone to replace a few of their old light bulbs with new CFL bulbs to save money and energy (up to 75% per bulb). The site calculates a number of statistics so that visitors can develop a better understanding of how their simple actions result in cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions. The site also calculates aggregate statistics by country and charts the progress of the initiative across the world by using color-coded maps. We also developed a number of promotional tools (e.g., energy savings calculator, customized stats banners) for webmasters and bloggers who would like to support our cause.

CE: The concept of changing the world energy scenario through a simple concept looks great. What was going through your mind when you decided launch this initiative?

Brian: We started with a few basic assumptions:

* Given mounting scientific evidence, global warming is a real threat that must be addressed.
* Most mainstream people are willing to take simple actions to help the environment if it doesn't entail a major lifestyle change.
* Most people like to save money as long as it's not too inconvenient.

OneBillionBulbs.com seeks to appeal to people at a both a micro and a macro level. At the micro level, individuals have a strong incentive to replace standard incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs because they'll save money. At a macro level, we saw an opportunity to make a positive contribution in the fight against global warming if we could educate people and convince a large number of them to switch to CFL bulbs. The cumulative impact of lots of micro-level actions can result in meaningful change at the macro level.

CE: Why do you recommend CFL bulbs? Can you brief us about its scientific and monetary advantages?

Brian: Regular incandescent light bulbs are inefficient. In fact, over half the energy consumed by an incandescent light bulb produces heat, not light. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. A CFL bulbs typically uses 65%-75% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb to provide the same amount of light. Another benefit of CFL bulbs is that they last up to 10 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs. So, while the upfront cost of CFL bulbs is higher than for regular bulbs, the total lifetime costs (e.g, cost of bulb(s) plus cost of electricity) of CFL bulbs is much lower. The environmental benefits, although indirect, are real. In the U.S, for example, over half of the electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants. The problem is that in addition to generating cheap electricity, coal-fired power plants release massive amounts of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas linked to global warming. In 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that 1.43 lbs of CO2 are released for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced. One thing to keep in mind is that CFL bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, so proper disposal is important. (Note that coal-fired power plants are the single biggest sources of mercury emissions into the environment. Although CFLs bulb contain a small amount of mercury, they still hold an advantage over standard bulbs in terms of mercury emissions).

CE: Having worked with a big brand and now owning a company of your own, How do you bring your technology and management expertise in One Billion Bulbs?

Brian: The main focus Symmetric Technologies, the company behind OneBillionBulbs.com, is doing software development projects for corporate clients. We usually have a handful of projects running concurrently. In order to be effective and deliver on various client commitments, we must be smart about how we use our time and resources. A few keys to our success include:
• Outsourcing and/or using external partners for areas where we don't have in-house resources or expertise (e.g, graphic design)
• Streamlining communication by tracking all project-related tasks, issues and discussions in a centralized database so that all project stakeholders have complete visibility to what is going on with their project(s).
• Building on top of pre-built application frameworks so that we're not constantly reinventing the wheel.

CE: How do people react when they hear about One Billion Bulbs? How has been the overall response so far?

Brian: The response so far has been positive. In recent days One Billion Bulbs has caught the attention of bloggers, social networks (e.g, FaceBook, MySpace) and user-driven bookmarking sites (e.g, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon). We've also received several partnership inquiries from a variety of organizations that share our concern for the environment.

CE: Don't you think changing One Billion Bulbs is an over ambitious project? How long do you think will it take to change One Billion Bulbs?

Brian: We recognize that the name of our site suggests a goal that is ambitious--perhaps absurdly so. That's intentional. Many people are goal-driven, so we wanted to communicate a goal through the name of the site. We decided to go with an aspirational goal, not one that is necessarily easily achievable. We wanted a goal that would make people think, imagine and dream with us. Will the goal ever be met? I don't think we have enough information at this time. It's possible that the site will only really take off if it receives some major media exposure. Even if we never meet the stated goal, the site will still be a success at some level if we can educate people and raise awareness along the way.

CE: Who is working with you on this project? What are your expectations from your team & people who are interested in your project?

Brian: I've been coordinating the project as a whole. The development team consisted of a technical lead and 2 other developers. I wrote most of the content, but we hope to bring in outside talent over time if the site can support that. My business partner and I have been doing most of the promotion so far. In order for the site to reach its potential, we'll need lots of other partners to promote our cause. One thing we support is the concept of sponsored groups. Group sponsors can invite other people to join their group. We then calculate and track the cost savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions attributable to the actions performed by the group. We host a page with summary stats for each group. In addition, we can generate and host custom group stats banners that can be inserted into websites, blogs, MySpace pages and so on. For more info on sponsoring a group, please see https://www.onebillionbulbs.com/SponsorGroup

CE: Thanks for sharing your views with CEans. We wish you all the best for One Billion Bulbs.

Brian: Thank you for your interest in OneBillionBulbs.com. We hope to have many CEans participate in our site!
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Brian Huyser is the founder of Symmetric Technologies Inc., USA. & the man behind www.OneBillionBulbs.com
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