FAQ

PIPs or “Positive Impact Points” are a currency of good that is earned and redeemed exclusively for engagement in verifiable daily life behaviors that deliver personal, community, and/or planetary benefit.

The PIPs’ vision is of a world in which every time users ride the bus, bike, volunteer, recycle, etc., they are rewarded with PIPs that can be used to unlock scholarship grants or redeemed for discounts on healthy food and other essentials. In this world, PIPs are ubiquitous, giving value to a diversity of heretofore undervalued yet socially beneficial actions.

PIPs Rewards is an innovative mobile app operated by the woman-led PIPs Rewards LLC. The “behavior tech” platform generates a currency of good (“Positive Impact Points” or “PIPs”) each time users take a verifiable beneficial action such as biking, volunteering, or riding the bus. Backed by institutional subscribers, partners, sponsors, and donors, PIPs can be used to unlock highly valued rewards, which for students includes scholarship grants and food credits.

The PIPs platform combines behavioral strategies, action verification, and data analytics to deliver on key outcomes (shifts in behavioral norms, improved education equity and access, progress toward UN SDGs, etc.).

PIPs for School is a program to which higher ed institutions subscribe that comes to life through the PIPs Rewards App. Students who are signed into the app (through a secure SSO) earn a digital currency (“Positive Impact Points” or “PIPs”) when they complete verified actions that provide personal, community, and/or planetary benefits. Our wide variety of Earn Actions include (but are not limited to) biking, riding the bus, refilling water bottles, attending events, and participating in a workout class. Once earned, PIPs can be converted into high-value rewards, including PIPs for School scholarships or gift cards for healthy food and other essentials.

PIPs for School is operated by PIPs Rewards LLC, a wholly owned charitable subsidiary of PIPs Education Fund (PEF), a New York State 501(c)(3) public charity. To learn more, click here.

It is possible to earn for a whole host of positive impact actions, especially if one is a student at a PIPs-subscribed college or university or an employee at a PIPs-subscribed enterprise.

Possible Earn Actions include:

  • Walking, biking, and taking public transit
  • Bike sharing, ride sharing, and carpooling
  • Completing mindfulness, wellness, and fitness classes
  • Saving, budgeting, and debt reduction
  • Reducing, reusing, refilling, up-cycling, and conserving
  • Shopping responsibly
  • Participating in games, trivia, and challenges

Even if you are not part of a subscribed community, you can count on PIPs to guide you to good, PIPs-worthy, everyday products and services offered by responsible brands.

Once earned, PIPs can be used in a number of ways. While only students at PIPs-subscribed higher ed institutions can convert their PIPs into scholarships, every user can redeem them for healthy food gift cards, music or book downloads, or discounts on everything from cool new gadgets to fitness club memberships to responsibly made products.

You can also pool your PIPs and donate them to a cause of your choice. It's a total win-win - good in, good out.

PIPs Rewards leverages a flexible and data-driven digital platform that includes iOS and Android mobile apps, a PIPs website, and an admin portal and content management system. Using the latest technologies in terms of data collection (QR codes, beacons, NFC scans, machine learning, and AI models), the PIPs platform allows PIPs clients and the PIPs team to know the effective actions taken by PIPs users and to monitor verified rather than declarative sustainable behavior data. The PIPs Rewards platform also leverages flexible integrations with a host of retail, rewards program, and activation partners through REST APIs or via lighter integrations through url management and attribution. Finally, PIPs offers a variety of data analytics reports available to PIPs clients, allowing for detailed analysis of PIPs' impact on sustainable behaviors and knowledge of sustainable solutions for a healthier and more eco-friendly lifestyle.

PIPs Rewards LLC, which operates the PIPs mobile engagement platform to which universities and other enterprises subscribe, is a wholly owned charitable subsidiary of PIPs Education Fund (PEF), a New York State 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. PEF’s charitable purpose is to help bridge the education equity gap by turning student engagement in health and sustainability into grant support for school and other essentials.

To learn more about PEF, go to pipseducationfund.org.

Indeed it is. In fact, January 2021 marks the third time the company that owns and operates the PIPs Rewards™ App was certified as a Benefit Corporation (B Corp). The first two times, the PIPs Rewards™ App was owned by 3P Partners Inc., which when founded in 2012 became one of the very first B Corps in the state of New York, a corporate designation under state law.

With operations of the app passing in summer 2020 to PIPs Rewards LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the New York State nonprofit PIPs Education Fund, PIPs Rewards LLC became the body to receive the certification for the third time.

As a nonprofit AND a B Corp, we are all about positive change and social good. Click here for our B Corp Assessment.

The PIPs App won the Big Apps NYC Award for Best Game in 2014 as it was developing its Minimal Viable Product. Here is the press release from the Mayor’s Office.

PIPs also was a Finalist in the Ford Mobility Challenge NYC 2017.

Absolutely! We are always on the lookout for innovative new products, services, sharing opportunities, self-tracking apps, experiences, and causes. Please alert us to any that you believe positively benefit one or more of our three main impact categories: Mind and Body, Community, and Environment. We'll review your suggestions and include them in our "Rewarding Better" catalog whenever possible. Send all ideas to ideas@pipsrewards.com.

PIPs are awarded by the PIPs team and by our partners for a wide range of actions that positively impact personal, community, and/or planetary health, from riding the bus and volunteering to participating in the sharing economy and purchasing up-cycled products. As a consequence, there is no one rating system by which to compare them all.

In order to narrow in on those actions that are both measurable and meaningful, we developed a system of constraints for our selection process. A key constraint we put on PIPs-worthy actions is that they must be verifiable, meaning we will only award PIPs for actions that can be digitally recorded or tracked using smart phones, smart meters, quantified self apps, sensors, NFCs, e-payment platforms, QR Codes, transaction reports, etc.

We also consider favorably actions that help reduce an individual’s and/or an institution’s carbon emissions, such as taking public transit, biking, carpooling, recycling, refilling water bottles, reducing food waste, saving energy, etc.

For the products, services, and organizations that we include in our catalogs, we consider whether they have been vetted by a third-party certifier or have been compared/rated against recognized standards that were developed and are accepted by experts. As no rating system is 100% foolproof, we conduct a literature review on products and entities to help us evaluate their positive impact. In this chart, we list the rating systems on which PIPs relies.

This Carbon Footprint Calculator aggregates the data of select actions taken by all members of your community that have a calculable carbon footprint (i.e., biking, walking, recycling, riding the bus, etc).

The following references, assumptions, emissions factors and formulas were used to estimate the number of pounds of carbon equivalents saved for each action included in this calculator. As we add more actions with a calculable carbon footprint, we’ll update the Calculator and this explanatory note.

Biking


References:

Greenhouse Gas Protocols, http://ghgprotocol.org/calculation-tools#cross_sector_tools_id (March 2017); http://www.energy.ca.gov/commissioners/rosenfeld_docs/Equivalence-Matrix_2001-05.pdf

Assumptions:

1) As there is no direct CO2 emissions associated with walking or biking, CO2 saved is measured as a function of car miles not driven.

2) Passenger car (Gasoline - Year 2005-present) emits 0.86323223646818 lbs (or 0.391555555555556 kg) of CO2 per mile

3) Car is assumed to get 22.5 miles per gallon.

4) In the case of biking, the average CU student commute by bike is estimated to be 2.5-3 miles/day.

5) Biking and bike sharing is included in the total number of biking events.

Formula:

CO2 saved per mile biked = Avg miles/trip (1.5) x Emissions factor (0.863232236) X # trips


RIDING THE BUS


References:

Greenhouse Gas Protocols, http://ghgprotocol.org/calculation-tools#cross_sector_tools_id (March 2017); http://www.energy.ca.gov/commissioners/rosenfeld_docs/Equivalence-Matrix_2001-05.pdf

Assumptions:

1 ) To calculate CO2 saved per passenger-mile for riding bus, subtract CO2 emissions factor (Bus - Local - US) from CO2 emissions factor (Passenger Car).

- Emissions Factor (Passenger Car, gasoline, Yr 2005 to present) = 0.8632322365 (Table 14. CO2, CH4 and N2O Emission Factors for US and other regions by Vehicle Distance)

- Emissions factor (Local bus/US) = 0.6273376365

2) Average bus ride assumed to be 1.375 miles.

Formula:

Total lbs. CO2 saved riding the bus = # trips x emissions factor (0.86258925) X Avg Miles/Trip (1.375)


CARPOOLING


References:

Greenhouse Gas Protocols, http://ghgprotocol.org/calculation-tools#cross_sector_tools_id (March 2017); Table 14. CO2, CH4 and N2O Emission Factors for US and other regions by Vehicle; http://www.energy.ca.gov/commissioners/rosenfeld_docs/Equivalence-Matrix_2001-05.pdf

Emissions Factor:

lbs/passenger-mile = 0.8632322365

Assumptions:

1) Sharing a ride with one other person, and that the weight of one extra person in the car does not increase the amount of gasoline consumed.

2) Car gets 22.5 MPG.

3) Average trip = 2.5 miles.

Formula:

Total lbs. CO2 saved = Avg Miles/trip (2.5) X Emissions factor (2.158080591) X # trips


WATER BOTTLE REFILLING


Reference:

https://sciencing.com/carbon-footprint-plastic-bottle-12307187.html

Assumptions:

Choosing to refill instead of purchasing a single-use plastic bottle saves 82.8 grams of CO2 ( 0.1825428 lbs of CO2).

At the recommended water intake of about 2 liters per day (2000 milliliters), Every day you choose to use a reusable water bottle, you save 0.73 lbs of CO2 a day, or 266.5 lbs of CO2 in a year.

Formula:

Calculating CO2 (pounds) saved based on # times a person chooses to refill = 0.1825428 lbs of CO2 * # of refills


RECYCLING


Reference:

https://www.epa.gov/warm/individual-waste-reduction-model-iwarm-tool

Emissions Factors:

- (Aluminum can) = 0.3 kwh saved ( *1.786 lbs of CO2e) = 0 .5358 lbs of CO2e/can

- (Water bottle (20 ounce)) = 0.1 kwh saved ( *1.786 lbs of CO2e)= 0.1786 lbs of CO2e/bottle

Formula:

Total lbs CO2 saved recycling 1:1 mix of aluminum cans and plastic water bottles = (0.5)( Total Recycled Material) X (0.5358) + (0.5)(Total Recycled Material) X (0.1786)


DINING IN


References:

Plastic(LPDE or PET, polyethlene) is about 6 kg CO2 per kg of plastic.

Amazon states the weight of 50 containers to be 4.75 lbs to ship.

Weight of each container (lbs)- 0.095 lbs per container
Weight of container (kg)- 0.04309128 kg per container
6kg of CO2 per kg of material

Emissions Factors:

Footprint per container (kg)- 0.25 kg of CO2 per container

Footprint per container(lbs)- 0.57 lbs of CO2 per container

Formula:

0.57lbs CO2 x [# Actions]


COMPOSTING


References:

Each ton of compost sequesters 0.5 tons of CO2.

Source: https://www.biocycle.net/2013/08/21/connection-co2-math-for-compost-benefits/

USDA study found that every American wastes about 1 lb of food waste per day.

Emissions Factors:

If 2000 lbs of composted food waste sequesters 0.5 tons of CO2 ( 1102.3 lbs of CO2), and

Every American wastes about 1 lb of food waste per day

Then a person who composts their food waste each day saves: 0.55115 lbs of CO2/day

Formula:

0.55115 lbs CO2/day X [days composted]


WALKING


References:

Greenhouse Gas Protocols, http://ghgprotocol.org/calculation-tools#cross_sector_tools_id (March 2017); http://www.energy.ca.gov/commissioners/rosenfeld_docs/Equivalence-Matrix_2001-05.pdf

Assumptions:

1) As there is no direct CO2 emissions associated with walking or biking, CO2 saved is measured as a function of car miles not driven.

2) Passenger car (Gasoline - Year 2005-present) emits 0.86323223646818 lbs (or 0.391555555555556 kg) of CO2 per mile

3) Car is assumed to get 22.5 miles per gallon.

4) The average person takes about 2000 steps in a mile.

5) PIPs sets two daily steps threshold - 8000 steps and 12,000 steps.

Formula:

CO2 saved for walking = steps/mile: lower threshold (4) x emissions factor (0.86323224) X # walking events: lower threshold + steps/mile: higher threshold (6) x emissions factor (0.86323224) X # walking events:higher threshold


OFFSETTING SHOPPING


References:

The average American is responsible for over 20 tons of CO2 per year, according to our partner, UCapture.

  • An 8 oz. steak causes 5 kgs. of CO2,
  • A 50” TV creates 225 kgs. of CO2 per year,
  • 1 passenger from NY to LA causes 454 kgs. of CO2.

UCapture has built a simple tool that it has shared with PIPs users to help us estimate, track and offset our carbon footprint. Click through the UCapture Earn Promo link in PIPs Earn Catalog to set up the UCapture extension. It will activate automatically on 25,000+ stores, triggering them to fund carbon offset projects when you shop. You must be logged in to the PIPs App to set up the PIPs-UCapture extension. Otherwise you won't earn PIPs as you shop and your offsets won't appear in the PIPs Carbon Footprint calculator.

Assumptions:

1) See https://www.ucapture.com/about to learn how UCapture estimates, tracks and offsets our carbon footprint.

2) 1 kg = 2.2046226 lbs

Formula:

CO2 offset = UCapture Kgs Offset per action x 2.2046226

The PIPs platform is fundamentally a transaction management system, capturing and keeping tallies of all user activity, including PIPs earn and redeem transactions, games, and challenges. The platform uses the following mix of action tracking tools, some in-app, to capture and reward user behavior:

  • Machine Learning (via in app sensors — GPS sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, camera)
  • APIs
  • NFC devices
  • Beacons, sensors
  • QR Codes
  • Transaction reports

Take the task of detecting when a user is riding a bus, for instance. We can use A) data from native apps/sensors installed on a device in order to complete the task, or B) beacons installed in a bus.

The PIPs Rewards platform is free to users. In fact, you get PIPs (Positive Impact Points) simply for joining!

However, users who are part of a subscribing community, say a university or business, will have access to select Earn Actions — such as walking, biking, recycling, and volunteering — and Redeem Actions — such as scholarship grants — that are not available to general users. To learn more about subscription benefits for universities, colleges, and community colleges, click here.

Another unique aspect of our program is the ecosystem of diverse partners and brands that we attract. In addition to brands in our e-commerce Earn Catalog — like Vitacost, Pharmaca, and Patagonia — and our Redeem Catalog — like Whole Foods, Spotify, and AirBnB — there are opportunities through sponsorships and direct partnerships for brands with strong mission-aligned CSR initiatives to engage with the PIPs platform and the communities in which we are deployed. To learn more about Action Partner opportunities, click here.

Here you are, sitting on a big pile of PIPs that you worked super hard to earn. You bought holiday presents, you signed up for solar panels, answered a ton of trivia questions, and downloaded the Moves App. Well, don't just sit on them. Time to complete the virtuous circle of good, my friend. Keep the good karma flowing: donate them!

The PIPs Redeem Catalog has dozens of NGOs to choose from, and donating is easy. Pick from organizations like Doctors Without Borders, Trickle Up, or All Out. Or, let us know of a reputable organization to which you'd like to give your PIPs, and we'll add it to our catalog.

Figure out how much you would like to donate (with a minimum of 500 PIPs), use the selector to set the amount, and click "Proceed with Donation." Remember: 1 PIP = 1 penny.

You now have a chance to review your donation. When you are ready, click the "Complete Donation" button. Your Tally will go down by the amount you donated, and you'll get an email from us confirming the dollar value of the donation. Unless you chose for your gift to be anonymous, a copy of this email will go to the charity. You should receive an acknowledgement of your gift once it has been received and processed.

What's great about our platform is that even if you have a zero balance in your PIPs' Tally, you can use our simple slide tool to pledge a percentage (from 1-100%) of future earned PIPs to a charity of your choice. Then, every time you earn more PIPs, that percentage is set aside for the charity you selected.

You can adjust the percentage whenever you like. You can also pledge to multiple organizations. We'll keep track of your pledges so that you don't pledge more than 100% of what you earn.

All donations and pledges are tallied at the end of each month, and as long as the total to an NGO exceeds $10, the funds are distributed. Otherwise, they are carried over and bundled in with the next month's donations.

Pretty simple, right? And you never even opened a checkbook or pulled out a credit card.

You need location services turned on for the following:

- To be notified about near check-in locations

- To log bus rides

- To earn any beacon

- To solve the clues within Scavenger Hunt challenges

Remember to select “Allow Always” for the PIPs Rewards App in your device settings in order to earn for all actions.

No, it doesn't. Your device is not scanning for beacons or other devices if you are not logged in, even if you gave all permissions and your Bluetooth is turned on. To earn rewards for any action, you need to be logged in.

Assuming the app is minimized, it still runs in the background. As you selected “'While Using the App,”' the system warns you that it still uses your location. That's native iOS system behavior and yes, pretty annoying visually, but unfortunately PIPs developers can't affect it.