Align, Leverage, Shift: Understanding & Innovating Chicago’s Water & Energy Efficiency Efforts
With generous support from the Chicago Community Trust, Foresight Design Initiative conducted a systems analysis of the region's water and energy efficiency efforts with the objective of revealing insights and opportunities to accelerate change and catalyze greater impact. Foresight conducted over 30 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to better understand their areas of focus, motivations, drivers, strategies, and barriers. Through this examination of the water and energy efficiency systems, 13 interventions for greater impact were identified to inform the work local stakeholders, as well as the local funding community. Highlights from this analysis are described in this report.
Innovation & Impact in Smart Grid Education
In 2011, the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act initiated the state's transition to "smart grid" technology. The Illinois Science & Energy Innovation Foundation was created to help consumers take full advantage of these improvements, especially the advanced electricity meters. In 2013, Foresight Design Initiative joined ISEIF's inaugural cohort of grantees to facilitate innovation in consumer education at the funder, grantee, and system levels. We are working closely with other grantees and the ISEIF staff to better understand this emerging field and effectively engage consumers in realizing benefits. Through systems analysis, user-centered design, and attention to future developments, we hope to catalyze consumers' integral role in the evolution towards a more sustainable energy future.
Calumet Stormwater Collaborative
Working closely with the Metropolitan Planning Council, Foresight Design Initiative led the early-stage facilitation of a recently-formed, multi-sectoral stakeholder group, Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, to create a shared understanding of the issue of stormwater in the Calumet region on Chicago's far south side and to identify strategic opportunities for integrated solutions.
By designing an innovative process that is rooted in a systems approach to problem solving, the Foresight team has engaged stakeholders in productive exercises that foster collaboration, determine root causes, cultivate shared goals, and build momentum towards collective action. To date, stakeholders have co-created a diagram of the stormwater system, from which nine fundamental challenges were identified and ranked based on the Collaborative's capacity to make an impact. The Collaborative's work is ongoing and is now focused on key actions necessary for bigger, better, and faster impact on managing stormwater in the Calumet region.
Vital Lands Illinois
In 2008, land conservation in Illinois was a disjointed system that needed to be realigned in order to bring greater efficiency, cohesion, and impact. Over the course of the year, The Grand Victoria Foundation and Foresight Design Initiative convened a state-wide working group of conservation organizations to gain insight into the root causes of the issue and identify opportunities for greater alignment. Through facilitating sessions and conducting a systems analysis, we determined that members needed capacity-building resources, access to national knowledge, and better connections between each other. By developing short- and long-term solutions to meet these goals, we helped create a process for a more effective and collaborative land conservation system throughout the state. Read more about Vital Lands Illinois.
The challenge was to create an exhibition at Chicago's Nature Museum that investigates the environmental impact of the ubiquitous manicured lawn and demonstrates a better "American Dream." Selected through a competitive proposal process, Foresight Design Initiative designed, constructed, and installed a central exhibit describing alternatives to the traditional lawn. Foresight was also invited to coordinate and execute a large, previously discarded project to design and install a variety of demonstration plots on one acre around the Museum. Elements of the outdoor installation are still incorporated into the museum’s grounds.