5 Successful Green Building Kickstarters That Could Change the Industry

Claire Moloney's picture
Claire Moloney
Consultant
March 11, 2013

These five successful Kickstarter campaigns could have major, long-lasting impacts on the green building industry.

Kickstarter projects could create new, disruptive green building technologies.
Kickstarter projects could create new, disruptive green building technologies.
Credit: ahisgett via Flickr

Kickstarter is a funding platform, where inventors, artists, and other creatives can post projects that need financing.  To be eligible for Kickstarter, the project must produce a finished "product" that will be completed.  For example, the project can produce a product, song, report, book, or movie - but it cannot be a new business. 

"Backers" are the people who contribute money to projects.  If a project meets its fundraising goal, then it will receive all of the funding that it earned.  If a project fails to meet its monetary goal, the money will be returned to the backers - making it a low risk investment. 

Since it is such a helpful resource for inventors, Kickstarter has been a hub for new, innovative green technologies, and has produced a number of successful projects that could drastically change the sustainable building industry.  The following five examples are Kickstarter projects that could disrupt the green building market with new, energy saving technology:

1. Nanolight
The Project: The most energy efficient LED in the world
Status: Funded with $273,278 of $20,000 goal 3 days ago

The Nanolight's unique (and odd looking) design is a "breakthrough in LED technology", because it is an extremely energy efficient 12 W LED, which is a replacement for a 100 W incandescent light bulb.  Many of the LEDs on the market are replacements for 20-60 W bulbs, rather than 75-100 W, because it is difficult to make these models cost-effective.  The Nanolight is super efficient because it emits half the heat energy of a typical LED or CFL bulb, which allows it to produce 133 lumens per watt - which is 200% better than other light bulbs on the market.

2. Energy Performance Testing on Straw Bale Buildings
The Project: Testing the energy efficiency of straw bale buildings in cold climates
Status: Funded with $2,820 of $1,000 goal on April 1, 2011

Two companies, New Frameworks Natural Building, LLC and Natural Design/Build gained funding to test whether buildings made from straw bales are high performing enough to withstand cold temperatures.  Straw bales are an eco-friendly, natural alternative to traditional building materials, which are typically petroleum-based.  The researchers, who will use blower-door and infrared thermography technology to test the straw bale buildings, will publish a book detailing the results.

3. The Methane Midden: Hot Water from Compost
The Project: A backyard compost pile that generates heat for hot water
Status: Funded with $674 of $500 goal on July 31, 2010

The Methane Midden is a backyard project in a suburb of Wisconsin.  Robert Frost, the project's founder, aims to generate heat from his compost pile, then transfer it to his home's domestic hot water system.  Then, he wants to space heat his home using a water-air heat exchanger.  He aims to prove that this is a simple technology that could produce clean, off-the grid energy for homes.

4. SOCCKET
The Project: A soccer ball that generates energy and charges devices
Status: $51,368 of $75,000 goal, with 16 days to go

The SOCCKET is a soccer ball that contains a pendulum-like device inside that harnesses the kinetic energy from the rolling motion of the ball.  It saves energy for charging items off the grid.  Thirty minutes of soccer can produce enough energy to charge an LED light bulb for 3 hours.  Only an ounce heavier than a conventional soccer ball, the SOCCKET is ideal for impoverished countries where soccer is popular, like parts of South America, but energy access is sporadic.

5. Wattvision

The Project: Mobile energy sensor and app that tracks real-time energy use

Status: $67,292 of $50,000 goal on September 13, 2012

Wattvision is a combination of an energy sensor and app that allows a homeowner to monitor electricity use in real time.  The energy sensor is simply mounted to the surface of the electricity meter (no electrician required), and the information is communicated via internet (and is accessible online or on a mobile device).  The app allows the homeowner to set energy saving goals, track progress, and compare his or her energy use to other comparable households - all on a well designed, easy to use interface.