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Green apps could spark environmental engagement

2013 April 17

The jury is in: green apps have a lot of potential! GfK, the organization that conducts the Green Gauge US survey writes, “mobile technology, specifically smart phone apps, may spark the next wave of environmental engagement” in their article, Earth Day Goes Digital. The article continues with more good news: “According to data from our most recent Green Gauge US survey, 29% of smartphone users have used an app in the past year to help reduce their impact on the environment.” We suspected that green apps were being used and now there are numbers to confirm it.

The article goes on to say:

“Demographically [environmental app users] are more likely to be men, younger, and well-educated (about half are college graduates). They are also ethnically diverse, with Hispanic and African-American smartphone users about twice as likely as average to leverage most environmental apps.

According to GfK’s Green Gauge research, the most popular “green” apps are ones that help people find the closest public transportation and monitor home energy usage. But smartphone users also use apps for educational purposes, information on recycling, and calculating environmental footprints. Perhaps most actionable for marketers, however, are apps that provide information about the environmental impact of products – 9% of smartphone users have used these.  (To see a listing of current environmental apps as compiled by the EPA click here:”

So check out the GfK article and visit My Green Apps to download an app so you can make a difference.


On another note, here are two large-scale events that may be of interest to developers and community-minded people.

The International Space Apps Challenge is a technology development event during which citizens from around the world work together to solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and life in space. You can participate in over 75 cities around the world or at home on April 20-21, 2013. See the 50 challenges that you can help solve!

National Day of Civic Hacking is a national event that will take place June 1-2, 2013, in cities across the nation. The event will bring together citizens, software developers, and entrepreneurs from all over the nation to collaboratively create, build, and invent new solutions using publicly-released data, code and technology to solve challenges relevant to our neighborhoods, our cities, our states and our country. National Day of Civic Hacking will provide citizens an opportunity to do what is most quintessentially American: roll up our sleeves, get involved and work together to improve our society.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Green Apps Articles and the USGS Scientific Challenge

2013 March 15

Lots of people are writing articles about green apps. Enjoy these two articles and tell us what apps you use.

USGS Challenge: App-ly Yourself to Tackle Today’s Scientific Challenges

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is entering the final stretch for their challenge, “App-ly Yourself to Tackle Today’s Scientific Challenges” and the deadline is April 1. You can also check out the ongoing webinars about their datasets. Check out EPA’s Data Finder and Developer Central to use EPA data with USGS data.

For this challenge, USGS scientists are looking for your help in addressing some of today’s most perplexing scientific challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss. You can see details on the challenge site. April 1 is the deadline (no fooling), so now is the perfect time to get started. This challenge is open to anyone age 13 and up, so if you know of anyone who may be interested, please pass this message along to them.

The webinars are running twice a week. The first webinar gave a brief overview of all of the datasets participating in the challenge and how to access them. Following that, the webinars cover one dataset at a time and allow USGS to discuss the data in more detail as well as how to access it. The webinars are recorded and they are available on the Core Science Analytics and Synthesis website.

For more information and to enter your submission for this challenge please go to:

For questions about EPA’s data and how to use it, contact

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

These are a few of their favorite apps: EPA’s Emerging Leaders Network Discusses Green Apps for the Environment

2013 February 25

EPA’s Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) met on February 13, 2013, to brainstorm ideas for how they use environmental apps (green apps). The ELN includes the emerging generation of EPA leadership: people who care about the environment and typically use smart phones. (By the way, thanks for the ELN’s great ideas about green apps in 2011.)

ELN Green Apps buzz hour-2_ 2-13-13

The ELN described the apps they use to protect or understand the environment and why they use them. Some people don’t use smartphones so we heard why they don’t use green apps.

Here are a few of their favorite apps:

  • EPA’s How’s My Waterway app helps people find information on the condition of their local waterways using data EPA has collected on healthy and polluted waterways that states and territories re­port under the Clean Water Act. This app lets people learn about their local waters, pollution problems, why they matter, and what’s being done to restore and protect them.
  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch app helps consumers make choices for healthy oceans. The app provides recommendations for which seafood items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and which ones you should “Avoid.” Scientists research government reports, journal articles and white papers, and contact fishery and fish farm experts. After a thorough review, the Monterey Bay Aquarium applies sustainability criteria to develop an in-depth Seafood Watch Report.
  • The Good Guide app makes it fast and easy to find safe, healthy, and green products.  There are over 120,000 food, personal care, and household products, from baby shampoo to bathroom cleaner. A barcode scanner makes it easier than ever to retrieve product ratings and information or browse and look up products with just a few “taps.”
  • Waterkeepers’ Swim Guide app gives people original descriptions with photographs of more than 2,200 different beaches across the U.S. and Canada. The app is integrated with Google Maps, which enables people to get walking, transit, or driving directions to a beach. It also lets people report any pollution problems or environmental concerns while at the beach. It covers Alabama, Alberta, British Columbia, California, Charleston SC, Connecticut, Florida, the Great Lakes, Greater Boston MA, Maryland/Chesapeake Bay, New York, the Ottawa River region, parts of Oregon & Washington states, Saskatchewan, and the Shenandoah River Valley.
  • EPA’s AIRNow app provides real-time information on air quality information that people can use to protect their health when planning their day. People can get location-specific reports on current air quality and air quality forecasts for both ozone and fine particle pollution (PM2.5). The air quality maps from the AIRNow website provide visual depictions of current and forecast air quality nationwide, and a page on air quality-related health effects explains what actions people can take to protect their health at different AQI levels, such as “code orange.”

These are just some examples of how the ELN uses green apps. Please tell us you use them. Just jot down a few thoughts below.
Remember that you can see 170 green apps on the My Green Apps website. And you can tell us what ideas you want developers to convert into apps.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

How can people find and use green apps?

2013 February 5

 There are over 140 green apps out there and EPA is looking for ways to get people to use them. Here are a few ideas that could work:

  • Environmental groups could bring attention to apps that support their causes.
  • Journalists could write about apps for specific uses, like at home, transportation, and purchasing.
  • People could share their favorite apps using social media, like Facebook and Twitter.

There must be more ways. Tell us what you think!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.