EarthPM Salutes ECOCAR2…and ECOCAR3!


We don’t want to bore you with a long post, but we do want to share with you something to which we contribute and are proud to be associated with.

It’s called EcoCAR2, and we’ve been happily collaborating with the planners of this 3-year event which has just culminated with a “Year 3 Competition” in which 15 universities from all over North America competed in a contest to convert a 2013 Chevy Malibu into a hybrid vehicle – improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions while keeping the car “showroom ready” and comfortable.  General Motors – a key sponsor – wouldn’t want it any other way.

In some cases, the student teams beat the stock vehicle’s specifications.  Quite impressive.

Recognizing that this was a project in all senses of the word, and a sustainability-oriented one at that, Argonne National Labs, a part of the US Department of Energy, called on EarthPM to train the hundreds of students (focusing on the business managers and project managers in the teams, of course) in project management fundamentals and in sustainability thinking applied to PM – and also to do some customized training in presentation skills.

It really warms our hearts to see the outcome of the event (The Ohio State University was the ultimate winner) but the attached video – in which we can see the students using some of the presentation skills – is something we just felt would be great to share.

You can see a full list of the universities and their awards here.  Perhaps your alma mater is amongst the top performers?

Whatever little bit we helped, we’re glad not only to have been associated with ECOCAR2 but even more proud to continue with the next edition – ECOCAR3, which will use a Chevy Camaro as the stock vehicle.

Enjoy the video!

Awesome Austin


We’re just back from the ECOCAR2 Winter Workshop in Austin, TX, USA.  Above, you see one of the many oversize guitars which are located throughout this vibrant city, helping promote the mantra, “Keep Austin Weird”.  In fact, if you look closely, you’ll see that this particular guitar is labeled “Vibrancy”.  Each of the guitar statues has a name which evokes a theme. And we’d dare to say that this was our theme this weekend as well.  Read on to find out why.

ECOCAR2 is a three-year collegiate engineering competition and the only program of its kind.  The competition’s mission is a vital one: offer an unparalleled hands-on, real-world experience to educate the next generation of automotive engineers. The competition challenges 15 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.  Established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), EcoCAR 2 builds upon a successful 23-year history of DOE Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTC) that exemplify the power of public/private partnerships in providing invaluable experience and training to promising, young minds entering the North American job market.

If that’s not a project, we’re not sure what is.  Defined start and finish.  Unique product, service or result.  Uses resources and has to work with limited time and budget to meet expectations and requirements of a sponsor… yeah, it’s a project, alright.

Each of these 15 University teams have project leaders and business managers – as well as faculty advisers.  These were the folks attending our workshop.

Some of the Mississippi State University students with their 2013 Malibu ECOCAR2 behind them.


The students – as well as the sponsors and faculty advisers – were active, engaged, and curious as we led our second workshop on project management for the 30 or so participants.  They worked in teams responding to challenges we gave them – and reported out with (you guessed it) vibrancy.  For example, one exercise was to apply the use of an Ishikawa diagram to solve a pizza shop’s delivery problems.  The teams really bought in (perhaps pizza and college students is indeed a marriage made in heaven) and found root causes and got those pizzas made properly and delivered on time.

We had fun.  They had fun.  And the Winter Workshop was successful.

We look forward to further collaboration with ECOCAR2, and wish all of these teams success in their efforts to create an innovative hybrid Malibu sedan!

Have a look at this summary video – and catch the vibrancy!

Stay tuned.  We’re likely to have a follow-up post with some more photos of the vibrancy!


Energy Star – Epic Fail

Gasoline-Powered Alarm Clock, certified by US as EnergyStar compliant

It’s April, but not April 1 (or April Fool’s Day).

We wish it were April Fool’s Day, and we wish this was a fake news story, but instead – it’s a real news story about some fake products getting real EnergyStar certification.

Let us explain.

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) sent in 20 applications for the EnergyStar certification.  All 20 applications were for fake products, many of them outlandish devices, as you’ll see below.  15 of the 20 received EnergyStar certifications.

From the recent (March 2010) GAO report:

GAO’s investigation shows that Energy Star is for the most part a self-certification program vulnerable to fraud and abuse. GAO obtained Energy Star certifications for 15 bogus products, including a gas-powered alarm clock. Two bogus products were rejected by the program and 3 did not receive a response. In addition, two of the bogus Energy Star firms developed by GAO received requests from real companies to purchase products because the bogus firms were listed as Energy Star partners. This clearly shows how heavily American consumers rely on the Energy Star brand. The program is promoted through tax credits and appliance rebates, and federal agencies are required to purchase certain Energy Star certified products. In addition, companies use the Energy Star certification to market their products and consumers buy products relying on the certification by the government of reduced energy consumption and costs. For example, in 2008 Energy Star reported saving consumers $19 billion dollars on utility costs.

One of the other products which received a certification was an “air cleaner” – made from a space heater with a feather duster attached to it.  See the actual photo from the GAO application below.

Actual photo submitted by GAO of "Air Cleaner", made from a space heater with a feather duster stuck in the grille. It received EnergyStar certification.

This illustrates the need for more attention to energy and conservation regulation, and the initiation of some new projects in the area of EnergyStar compliance.  Not the hiring of hundreds of bureaucrats in an endless sea of cubicles – just more attention and focus on what should be a key focus of government.

The EPA and DOE did respond to the audit by GAO with this statement.

Read more (and listen to an audio podcast) at the National Public Radio (NPR) link here.   Or, read a Yahoo news release on the subject here.

And remind us to set our gas-powered alarm clock to ridiculous-o’clock!