Update – Dec. 23, 2013
Yes, your score has been updated to reflect the new scoring values. Most likely it went up!
The original scoring system was based on the impacts of ongoing actions (we call these “habits”), which had action scores ranging from 5-150 points in a given category (e.g. energy, health, water, stuff). Repeatable actions (“acts”) were then introduced and scored on a similar, but separate, scale. Our new streamlined scoring system puts acts and habits onto the same scale. Consequently, the points within a given category can be as low as 2 points for some acts and as high as 1,000 points for some habits. Additionally, we are limiting the number of times you can earn points for completing the same action. This is meant to encourage users to perform a variety of different actions rather than just sticking to a few. See the “Methodology” section below for more details.
Your new personal score has been calculated based on the updated values of your completed actions. For instance, if you had a personal score of 1,000 points you may see an increase to 2,000 points or more, because the underlying action values have generally increased.
In most cases, rankings will not be affected. You might move from 3rd to 4th place or vice versa, but it’s unlikely that your standing will change dramatically.
Because everyone’s scores are changing, the threshold amount of points required to earn achievements/badges may vary. In particular, the points required for user level achievements (i.e., levels 1-10) and the levels within projects (i.e., 1-3) will change to be more appropriate for the updated scoring system. Achievements that you have already in the past will not be taken away. Therefore, in some cases you may retain your achievement even if your score falls below the new threshold.
Please review the “Methodology” section below for more details.
As you take steps to live more sustainably, you may wonder which actions have the most impact. How does using natural shampoo compare to recycling your old sneakers or signing up for green power? To show you, we’ve developed a proprietary methodology for translating complex data and information – from scientific literature and life-cycle impact assessments to greenhouse gas emissions and chemical toxicology – into an accessible point system.
Simply put, our scientists carefully analyze the impacts of each action to calculate its points or score. The greater the impact, the higher the score.
We score our actions and award points in five categories: Water, Energy, Stuff, Health, and Other. The first three (Water, Energy, and Stuff) are about reducing consumption and preventing waste. Health is about lowering our exposures to harmful substances. Other includes actions are that are good to perform but don’t directly result in measurable impacts in any of the previous four categories. For example, volunteering your time to help out your local community is a great thing to do, but it may or may not reduce resource consumption or reduce your exposure to toxins.
In most cases, the scores correspond to measurable impacts that result from someone taking that particular action. For our Water, Energy, and Stuff categories, we measure the impacts of each action in six potential areas: the water conserved, the energy and/or fuel saved, the emissions prevented, the waste averted, and the trees left standing. For our Health category, we look at the toxicity of the chemicals involved and the degree to which the action reduces your exposure to them.
There are two main categories of actions: acts and habits. As an example, taking public transportation to work one day is an act, while taking public transit as your primary mode of transit to and from work is a habit. The habit score (H) is determined from the ongoing impacts of the habit (e.g., gal water/month, kg CO2/month, and lb waste/month for Water, Energy, and Stuff, respectively). Habit scores range between 50–1,000 points for each category. In rare cases an action may earn more than 1,000 points due to significant impacts across multiple categories.
The act score (A) is calculated based on the number of times you need to complete the action (N) before unlocking the habit and earning bonus points (B). (We usually save about half of the points until the end to encourage you to form habits.) The one-time points can be understood by the following formula:
With the same mass-transit example above, taking public transit as your primary mode of transportation to and from work is worth 500 points (T = 500). You need to take this action 10 times (N = 10) before unlocking the habit, where you can earn a 250 point bonus (B = 250). Therefore, taking public transportation once is worth:
A = (500 – 250) / 10 = 25 points
You can earn some habits by completing an action just once. For example, if you sign up for paperless pay stubs you will save paper every month, so you earn all 50 points when you take that action.
Acts that have no associated habits may earn less than 50 points total, especially if there is no measurable impact from the action. For example, watching The Story of Stuff film is a great thing to do, but it doesn’t directly result in any measurable reduction in waste. Thus it earns 10 points. Hopefully the film will lead you to take other actions to cut down on waste and earn more points!
Impacts are calculated relative to a conventional alternative. For example, the score for taking public transportation to work is based on the difference in per-person fuel consumption between taking mass transit and driving by yourself in a car. In these cases we use averages, such as the average fuel economy and average distance to work in the US.
Our data comes from reliable third-party academic, government, and nongovernmental sources. These include peer-reviewed journals, Energy Information Administration data, and reports from organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists. When such data is unavailable (for example, the amount of coffee filters an office uses), we may look to other sources or make educated assumptions.
We include life-cycle analyses when they’re readily available or when they constitute a significant portion of an action’s impacts. Life-cycle analysis involves a complete assessments of all of the eco-impacts of a given action, service, or product, from start to finish. For example, when you reduce your meat consumption, much of the impact comes from energy savings in growing livestock feed. So when it comes to your favorite steak, we make sure to include this life-cycle data. (Pair your organic steak with an eco-friendly red wine for extra points!)
Most actions earn points in only one category, but when there are substantial impacts across multiple categories, we’ll award points in others. Using a low-flow shower head, for example, saves lots of energy by using less hot water and therefore earns points for both Water and Energy. The exception to this rule is in the Stuff category. Due to the fact that there are energy savings associated with nearly every action that reduces waste, we incorporate these into the Stuff scores and don’t award separate points.
All users start out at level zero. As users check off actions, they earn points and can move up levels from 1 to 10. For every 5,000 points you earn, you’ll move up another level. Earning 50,000 points to reach level 10 is not easy, but it is very impactful! You can always check your Dashboard to see how many points are needed to make it to the next level.
You can track the total impact of your group(s) on the Teams page. Habits that you and your teammates perform on a regular basis and/or ones that have ongoing impacts (like weather-stripping windows) continually add to your team’s cumulative impact over time, while one-time acts (like taking a staycation) increase your impact each time you perform them.
We use the honor system. If you’re not sure whether you’ve done what the action requires, click on the action text and read the How To information.
For one-time acts, mark them off as you perform them. After you’ve done this many times, we assume that you’ve made a habit of it and often award you a bonus. If you haven’t actually made a habit of it, you should uncheck the habit. For example, if you ate 10 vegetarian meals but haven’t embraced a vegetarian diet, you should un-check that habit. To do so, go to your profile page by clicking your photo in the upper right-hand corner, select the Habits tab below your score, and click the “x” next to the habit you’d like to un-check.
It’s also good practice to check up on the Habits tab occasionally to make sure you’re still doing what you said you were doing previously. For example , if you installed a dual-flush toilet in your old house and moved to a new house without one, please uncheck that action.
We’re constantly fine-tuning our calculations as new data becomes available, and occasionally this changes an action’s score.
Have any thoughts or questions about our methodology?Drop us a line!