Helping Organizations Balance Energy Efficiency with Cost Effectiveness

Team Members
Kyle Schultheiss
Dylan Symington
Sawyer Symington
Benson Tran

To help organizations make informed decisions towards purchasing energy saving products.


Many organizations are expressing interest in becoming more environmentally friendly. One of the best ways to accomplish this is for them to use products that are beneficial to the environment and more energy efficient. Unfortunately, green products aren’t always the cheapest option, so some organizations are having trouble balancing “environmental-friendliness” with their overarching goal of increasing profit margins. Large companies such as Unilever, IBM, and Frito-Lay have stated that they are interested in technologies that would help them go green [6]. Our proposed solution to this problem is a browser plugin that would assist companies in considering energy-efficiency and environmental-friendliness when making purchasing decisions. This plugin would integrate extra information into Amazon product search results - allowing users to better analyze and recognize the potential benefits associated with green products.

Related Work
Although there is a surplus of websites that claim to help users make green purchasing decisions, only a few are effective. This is due to individuals’ aversion to changing the way they have historically performed the task of buying products. Many would rather use a familiar website instead of learning an entirely new website. Websites like,, and ENERGY STAR provide users with tools to better understand the environmental impact of different products. However, these sites do not take actual pricing information into account in their ratings, preventing each from being full solution for companies that are trying to make better purchasing decisions[1][3][5]. ECommerce sites such as ENERGY STAR Quantity Quotes and make it possible to buy environmentally-friendly products, but attracting users away from more established shopping websites such as Amazon has proven difficult for them[2][4]. ENERGY STAR Quantity Quotes was even forced to shut down because of its inability to attract users[4].

An alternate solution to directly competing against Amazon is developing a browser plugin that adds extra information to websites that the people already buy products from. While there aren’t many plugins designed to help people understand the environmental impacts of their buying decisions, one relevant example is the GoodGuide plugin. The GoodGuide plugin allows consumers to view extra information about certain products on Amazon. This extra information includes an “Environment” rating which attempts to give a product a score from 0 to 10, signifying how environmentally friendly it is. There is also a button that takes the user to a full rating of the product on the GoodGuide website, providing detailed reasoning behind the score. In addition to showing the score for the current product that a user views, the GoodGuide plugin shows related products that have GoodGuide ratings, allowing users to compare products based on the different scores. While the GoodGuide plugin is simple to use, it has its share of shortcomings. It only contains information on a very limited amount of Amazon products and its scores can be deceptive since the algorithms and calculations behind the scores are not fully explained. These scores are all the user is given, so if they wish to correlate lifetime cost effectiveness and energy efficiency, the GoodGuide plugin has no medium to assist them [1].

1. GoodGuide. 2012. Green, Healthy, & Safe Product Ratings & Reviews.
2. Green Retail and Wholesale. 2012. Your Trusted Source for Green Products.
3. Sourcemap Inc. 2011. Sourcemap: where things come from. Web.
4. US Department of Energy. 2012. ENERGY STAR Quantity Quotes.
5. US Environmental Protection Agency. 2012. ENERGY STAR.
6. Wang, Ucilia. 2009. What Big Companies Want From Green Startups. Green Tech Media.