Global Renewable Energy Education

Global Renewable Energy Education

Costa Rica
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Costa Rica is home to the most eclectic and abundant basket of alternative energy resources. All piled within the state of Guanacaste, wind, hydroelectric, bio-cogeneration, geothermal, and solar energy work together to power 80% of the country's energy.
Furthermore, there are low-income homes that are built with sustainable technologies and long-lasting materials to be able to withstand time and minimize utility use.
Our program brings students to Costa Rica to learn and participate in this initiative to eliminate carbon footprints and build reliable housing and utilities for everyone. Students build rain-water collection systems, manure-powered methane gas tanks, and solar water heaters on low-income houses and are given the tools to make the same difference in their home communities

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The green industry, or the renewable energy and sustainability sectors, are most heavily impacted. With direct relations with University students, our program molds dozens of inspired and ambitious game-changers with the educational background to make a difference. Many states in the US are pushing for 20% renewable energy use by a certain date, where Costa Rica has already advanced beyond 80% comparatively and is determined to become the first country to be carbon neutral. These students are ready to reach that goal globally. The Costa Rican community and home communities of our students are also impacted as we continue to install residential technologies on low-impoverished homes in Costa Rica and students take their teachings back to their home communities and repeat the process.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Costa Rica is the only place in the world where one can find operating facilities in geothermal, hydroelectricity, wind, solar, and bio-cogeneration all within an hour's drive from each other. Our program offers exclusive access to tour each of these facilities and make contingent projects that allow our students to touch, see, feel, and hear these operating energies in motion. We have complimentary tours in biological reforestation, organic gardening, sustainable development, and residential applications. Students take what they learn on a commercial scale and apply to a residential setting, impacting both their own mind and the community they are in. Furthermore, our project works on a global scale to bring students from around the world to a foreign location to learn and experience. Once inspired and graduated, members of our global network, as young as it is, connect with each other to create positive change on the housing communities and the energy grid around the country and around the world. Our students have gone on to create automated recycling systems at Universities, build methane tanks to produce stove heat in their home community in India, and return to Costa Rica to build top-of-the-line b-green sustainable homes. Our program does not do one act of good and call it a day. Rather, we provide the education and inspiration that motivates continual change and community growth that can be shared and multiplied with others. Like an evolutionary genome, we are slowly mutating the minds of young individuals to influence them to make a positive difference.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

With 55 students, undergraduate and graduate, coming from 20 universities around the United States, we have grown our network to a strong foundation that has proven our potential for longevity and impact. Institutions in Costa Rica have requested our collaboration to develop globally accredited education centers. State schools within the United States have given students up to 6 credits, grants, and award certificates for having participated in our program. Penn State in particular has recently announced the development for a $50K yearly grant to be given to their students as a subsidy to attend our programs. We have been called by companies such as Gardner Training who have been interested in hiring our alumni after our student base acquired high-level internships in companies like General Electric Renewables and PSE&G Renewables. We have been contacted by companies like Linde Group who look to fund our students through corporate sponsorships. Lastly, we have been invited to have a pro-bono production of a sizzle reel shot for a tv series because the producers believe that our message is profound and well-executed. Within less than one year, we went from a Stage 1 idea to a full Stage 4 company with many opportunities to expand along the horizon.
About You
Organization:
Global Renewable Energy Education Network (GREEN)
About You
First Name

Brady

Last Name

Halligan

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Global Renewable Energy Education Network (GREEN)

Organization Phone

888-558-0579

Organization Address

PO Box 1921 New Brunswick, NJ 08903

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, GU

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Founder, Benjamin Lapidus, worked on Wall Street as a Trading Assistant intern as a Rutgers undergraduate student. With many skills and ambitions, he felt his day-to-day plug and chug was not taking advantage of his full potential. With the recession blowing away the financial industry, he knew that this experience had saved him from a lifetime of the same non-impacting monotony. Having always wanted to visit Costa Rica seeking opportunity, he emailed over 100 hotels to try and work there for a month in exchange for free room & board. One hotel responded positively to his request, so he spent 4 weeks there after quitting his internship. With his time at the hotel, he met a man, brilliant in the understanding of renewable energy and economic fluctuations, that had toiled with the idea of bringing Costa Rican elementary students to his hotel to learn about the different energies that surrounded him, as this was not a topic taught in grade school. Benjamin latched on to this idea and offered a counter-proposal to use the Costa Rican infrastructure of eco-tourism and energy innovation to educate American University students. After including two more founders on his team, GREEN piloted their program in January of 2010 with 12 Rutgers students. With the goal in mind of making this a growing network that together can change the world, as opposed to a one-time service, it's high reviews and great testimonials grew to over 40 more students from almost 20 other Universities, job placements, financed capstone projects, and online resources for the graduated alumni.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

101 - 1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

1001‐10,000

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

University students are arguably hit the hardest during these economic times. Students who may be interested in the GREEN program and want to attend may not be able to gather the finances to pay for the fee of the program. We plan to overcome this barrier by developing strong relationships with Universities to offer scholarships to come on the program. Also, we plan on developing relationships with corporate sponsors that are willing to share their resources to help students attend the program and further grow the GREEN Alumni Network.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Currently there is one type of program offered to University students. We plan to offer different strings of programs in both Costa Rica and other areas of the world, starting with Brazil and followed by Iceland and Japan. Additionally, we plan to grow our demographic base to adults looking to continue their personal education, interns and trainees at companies looking to get a better insight to their industry, and citizens of other countries that do not speak English.
Through corporate sponsorships, we plan on raising funds for students with financial need and for micro-financing student's projects that have commercial viability. Furthermore, we plan to make greater strides in impacting the home base communities, such as Costa Rica, through philanthropy activities.

Sustainability
For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each

The initial start-up costs of the organization were bootstrapped by the founding members. These 4 individuals invested their financial equity and sweat equity. They are also the chief managing team of the organization. Over the past year, over 50 customers have helped finance the organic growth of the institution. These customers have turned into alumni and have become instrumental members of the network's success. These alumni have invested their time to strengthen bonds between GREEN and their respective Universities. They have returned as counselors for the program and they strive to positively impact our organization as deeply as possible, be it through word of mouth, answering questions for an article written in their school paper, or recommending pertinent administrators at their University to reach out to.

How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

Currently, GREEN is working diligently to increase the amount of University support in the form of scholarships and grants to help students financially with the program fee. In addition, there has been interest by companies and corporations in the form of corporate sponsorships to offer resources to help the program grow in every area to increase the American youth's renewable energy, green architecture, and sustainability education. Being a young program, GREEN is continually discovering new ways to diversify their base of support for the future.

Collaboration
Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Design, Labor, Water, Infrastructure, Energy conservation, Renewable energy, Green housing, Environment, Income generation, Urban development, Rural development, Citizen/community participation.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention

The focus of the community service project is to work to improve a low-income household in the Costa Rican Community. These families are unable to afford the slightest improvements on their homes. A small portion of the program fee goes to financing a project that the students will help design and construct on a low-income home. These projects have helped ease the harshness of everyday life for these families. Also, when one addition to a home is completed, the success of its implementation spreads throughout the community, which sparks more improvements in sustainability.

Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?

We are collaborating with B-Green Homes, Hotel Tilawa, Puerto San Luis, Tilaran Adventures, Invenio, Linde Group, and Gardner Training. We are also collaborating with a number of private Universities from around the nation.

Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)

The first 5 organizations mentioned are Costa Rican companies:
B-Green Homes is a Costa Rican based home development company that prides itself on redundancy, sustainability, space efficiency, and cost effectiveness. The architects of this organization build custom homes for expats entering the country, and low-income homes for the Costa Rican government to provide to the impoverished. This relationship gives students a chance to observe top-notch custom integration of sustainable technologies as well as cost-effective residential applications of the learned renewable energies.
Hotel Tilawa and Puerto San Luis are the two boarding locations for the students. Between these two organizations, they power their stoves with methane tanks, their water heat with a solar heater, their water collection with a rain water collection system, and their energy from installed 15 foot wind turbines and effective energy management. They produce their food from organic gardens and cyclically sustainable livestock and tilapia farms. This educational exposure is a mind-shifting experience for the students.
Tilaran Adventures matches our educational program with the appropriate renewable energy facilities. This organization also tours us around to see the different areas of the country that lack sufficient infrastructure in both the housing and utility markets. This is where we perform our education based community service and philanthropy.
Invenio has requested our collaboration as they charter to grow from Institution to University in Costa Rica.
Linde is a European organization with a large branch in North America. They have been collaborating with us to eventually provide corporate sponsorships to subsidize our students expenditures.
Gardner Training has been communicating with us to place our alumni into renewable energy based jobs.

Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed

Corporate social responsibility department, Marketing department, Sales department, Logistics department, R&D department.