Press Release

Illinois Tech and Design Leaders Send Letter on Climate Change

For Immediate Release

August 27, 2014

Illinois Tech and Design Leaders Call for Climate Action, Opening of Energy Data

CHICAGO – More than 30 leading members of Illinois’ bustling technology and design community have signed a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy applauding efforts to curb carbon pollution and asking that open data be a key part of our nation’s effort to fight climate change. The letter was cc’ed to the White House and Illinois Governor Quinn, and was sent to the full Illinois Congressional Delegation.

The letter voices support for the first proposed limits on carbon pollution from power plants, which were announced in June.

“We support the proposed regulations because we are deeply concerned and mindful about the present and future impacts of climate change on our state, our economy, our public health and our communities. Additionally, we want policy makers to know that U.S. EPA’s carbon pollution regulations also offer the Illinois business community opportunities for potential economic gains,” the letter says.

The letter goes on to say that by opening energy data, the state’s technology community can become a key partner in the fight against climate change:

“Working together to integrate technology and design will insure we have cleaner, more reliable electricity. We’ll slash our greenhouse pollution, and we’ll grow the economy. We’ve changed the way people get the news, book travel, buy goods, make dinner reservations and find parking. Let’s change the way people use energy.”

Jason Kunesh, a co-founder of Public Good Software and veteran of Orbitz and of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, said the tech community is positioned to help people truly engage with efforts to fight climate change. “There is a growing segment of the technology and design community that is deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change we are already seeing. We want to be part of the solution.”

Derek Eder, a co-founder of Open City Apps and co-host of Chicago’s weekly Open Gov Hack Night, said that opening up energy use data and making real time data available to users will allow for the development of game changing products in the energy space. “We’ve seen the apps and tools made possible by the opening of government data. It has allowed people to better understand everything from snow plows to closing schools to registered lobbyists. If we had detailed data on carbon pollution, we could make powerful apps to fight climate change, too.”

For many of the signers, who signed as individuals, not on behalf of their employers, the desire to become part of the fight against climate is personal. Billy Carlson, Director of UX at Threadless, said that as a father with young children he is concerned about the world those children will inherit. “The impacts of climate change are here and it is up to us to do something. I am not a climate scientist, I am not a politician. If can use my talents to make tools that help people cut their carbon pollution, then sign me up.”

Other prominent signers of the letter include John Tolva, former Chief Technology Officer with the City of Chicago; Adrian Holovaty, co-creator of Django and EveryBlock, and founder of Soundslice; Dan Ratner, a co-founder of Sittercity; Mana Ionescu, president and founder of Lightspan Digital; Mike McGee, Co-Founder of Starter League; Matt Gee, co-founder of Effortless Energy; Atkins Meyer, director of engineering at Threadless; Paul Baker and Elnaz Moshfeghian of Webitects; and Ty Benefiel the creator of Meter Genius.

For a copy of the letter contact David Jakubiak.