photo © 2006 Fin Fahey | more info (via: Wylio)On Sunday I watched Christianne Amanpour’s interview with Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett and Ted Turner on This Week on Sunday. All three espoused some form of SpiderMan conservatism. The only interesting thing that emerged from the interview was that the Gates Foundation funds experimental work in American public schools.
Why? The rest of the Gates Foundation work seems to be devoted (from what I have heard anyway) to creating one-time, permanent fixes to problems that they can “just do” with no permission from regulators, which is what I have always liked about that foundation. To attempt to make any changes to public education would seem to involve a long fight with a deeply commited vested interest and a range of lobbyists for a limited reward at best.
That got me thinking of permanent, one-time improvements the foundation could make without coming into contact with vested interests and their lobbyists. Here is one idea:
Home insulation – The Gates Foundation could sponsor their own research and improve spray foam insulation until it
- has double to the R-Value per inch (up to R-14) of existing spray foam
- has half the cost of the cheapest insulating competitor per cubic foot
- is simple enough so that the average DIYer could resinsulate in a weekend
- could be sold at at Home Depot or Lowes, and WalMart.
Once those goals have been met they could open source the patents and let the commoditization begin! America is horribly under-insulated, and making an R-100 easy to do would result in a permanent, one-time fix to America’s housing stock that would dramatically reduce residential energy consumption. It would also disproportionally help the lower-income who tend to live in under-insulated houses.
Having said all this I do realize that insulating is not that difficult, nor that expensive, but it is perceived that way by the general public, and if you could reduce the payoff period to less than a year that would surely improve matters.
What do you think, what would you do if you had 50 million to spend and the improvement had to be:
- One-time (no recurring maintenance or anything)
- Physical, not virtual
Thoughts anyone? Please leave them in the comments.
This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog