“With 75 percent of the infrastructure needed globally by 2050 not yet built, the decisions we make today with regard to our buildings will determine our future collective health.”
—CoBE project team
Soon after Apple launched its app store in 2008, Iza and Samo Login joined the wave of software developers starting companies to take advantage of the new technology. But the Slovenian couple began Outfit7 with a different goal from that of the rest of the crowd: to sell the company in seven years to fund a charitable foundation devoted to environmental causes. The company hit it big with an app called Talking Tom, an interactive animated cat that spawned sequels and a YouTube series. But the Logins stuck to their plan and sold the company in 2017.
“If we kept running the company, then it would have been a failure,” Samo told Bloomberg Businessweek. “The greed would have won.”
The couple visited the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as co-founders of the new Login5 Foundation in 2017 and said they were “pleasantly surprised” by the warm and open reception from the researchers they met and by the scientists’ infectious enthusiasm for their work.
“We felt that the School is very much aligned with our goals,” Samo says. These include reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and pushing the global food system and fashion industry in more sustainable directions.
The foundation supported Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, for his work on a report from the EAT-Lancet Commission released earlier this year. It calls for shifting diets toward healthy, largely plant-based patterns, reducing food waste, and improving food production practices.
More recently, Login5 gave $1.5 million to the School to launch the Co-Benefits of the Built Environment (CoBE) calculator, an open-access online tool that city planners and developers can use to measure energy cost savings, emission reductions, and health benefits of green buildings compared with conventional buildings. CoBE is directed by Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science. To launch the tool, the researchers are developing simulations to demonstrate how green building strategies can reduce emissions and other toxic air pollutants in cities around the world.
The CoBE project aims to provide evidence that can be used to advocate for more energy-efficient building policies. And there’s no time to lose. According to Allen’s team, buildings consume 40 percent of the energy produced by fossil fuel combustion. They write, “With 75 percent of the infrastructure needed globally by 2050 not yet built, the decisions we make today with regard to our buildings will determine our future collective health.”
Amy Roeder is associate editor of Harvard Public Health.
Photo: Alberto Masnovo/iStock