We helped investors discover climate change mitigation opportunities in their local cities


Developed by Venture Innovation’s Studio team, City Builder® by Citi is a free, data-driven platform designed to help investors, developers, municipalities, and community members make impactful, place-based investments.

As part of the Strategic Innovation in Product and Service Design course, my team took on the challenge of designing a strategy for helping investors find climate change mitigation investment options.


  • Researching economic context and precedents
  • Conducting stakeholder and user interviews
  • Synthesising research and identifying key insights
  • Storyboarding user experience and designing video narrative
Yi Li, MFA Candidate
Ashley, MFA Candidate
Roshel, MFA Candidate
Roger Mader, Managing Partner, Ampersand
Criswell Lappin, SVP of Design, Bigtincan
Jen Shuang, Head of UX, Citi Ventures Studio
15 weeks
How might we help investors discover and understand impactful investment opportunities in climate change on the City Builder platform?
4D Design Process
To design the innovation strategy, we used the 4D Innovation method designed by our advisor, Roger Mader. This method helped diverge during ideation, converge to determine insights, and stay in focus throughout the process.
1. Define
Understanding the problem, goals, and scope through the lens of stakeholders
2. Discover
Conducting contextual and user research and synthesizing key insights
3. Design
Designing user flows and prototypes, and storyboarding a compelling story to tell
4. Deploy
Deriving a business model and calculating potential impact
Contextual Research
How to meet $9 trillion investing target by 2030?

Through contextual research consisting of societal, economic, scientific, and technological analysis, we realized the importance of this challenge. Our planet's temperature is increasing at an alarming rate. To save the planet, the Paris Agreement set a goal of limiting this rise to 1.5 degrees per year above the pre-industrial era by 2030. The World Bank recommended investing $9 trillion to reach this ambitious target.

User Research
Finding advocates for climate change within Wall Street

We interviewed ten leading investors based in NYC and developed empathy maps to synthesis our interviews and extract user pain points, needs, and behaviour. Based on our research, our target users were not only professional investors, as suggested by the stakeholder, but a smaller niche of investors called "impact investors." These investors are interested in creating social impact in addition to monetary returns.

User personas
CEO & Cofounder, Goodstead
“Opportunities were hard to come by, and then their benefits were difficult to assess.”
Find a trust-worthy platform where environmental friendly investment opportunities exist.
  • Balance financial gains and create positive impact
  • Compare different opportunities
  • Finding opportunities is difficult
  • Difficult to assess opportunities
VP, Calvert Research
“The understanding of the local communities should be the  driver of the investments.”
Discover and invest in the local communities that need the most help
  • Monitor the true impact of investment on local communities
  • Understand different needs of different localities
  • Difficult to assess community needs
  • Difficult to assess opportunities
Based on our insights, investors needed to...
See climate information in project details
Value non-monetary values along with key financial number
Compare different projects to make informed decisions
Have trust in the information being provided on the platoform
Communicate with different stakeholder involved in the project
Get information in form of smart visualisations instead of raw data
Designing the Experience
Using 5E Model to map out the user journey
Combat climate change
Touch points
Ads, conferences, news, forums
Can I combat climate change through investment?
  • Hopeful
  • Curious
  1. Research different investment mediums
  2. Compare different platforms
Discover projects
Touch points
How do I find the right opportunity?
  • Trust
  • Welcomed
  1. Onboarding process
  2. Browse the projects
  3. Filter and search projects
Learn about projects
Touch points
Discover, compare, manage
Can I learn more about the impact his project creates compared to others?
  • Confident
  • Excited
  1. Easily understand project details
  2. Compare projects
  3. Save projects
  4. Organise projects
Interest to invest
Touch points
I am interested in this project, how can I learn more?
  • Compassion
  • Anticipation
  1. Find appropriate advisors
  2. Contact project provider
  3. View project documentation
  4. Get feedback
Measure impact
Touch points
Email, calls, management
How much impact have I or the project I invested in has created?
  • Satisfied
  • Achievement
  1. Track project status and impact
  2. Push notification on project updates
  3. Return to platform
The story we told...
Discover climate change mitigation opportunities
A place where impact investors can discover the communities that need their attention the most.
Know your city's urgent climate needs
Local communities were at the heart of our solution, therefore, we made sure investors were able to truly understand the local needs and the city.
Compare opportunities across industries and regions
To assist in making decisions, we designed a side-by-side compare giving investors the power to make confident choice.
Simulated portfolio and impact management
We gave investors a way to organise their project directly on the platform.
Deployment Strategy
Modelling the impact on carbon emissions

We estimated to reduce carbon emissions by almost 50 million tonnes while the cost to reduce this impact would be $7 million dollars invested. In our model, we assumed a growth rate of 10% annually will all projects funded. As a result we estimated to reduce carbon footprint of US by 7% by 2030, which really sold our effort and story.

From pilot to merging with existing platform

According to our strategy, we proposed to launch the pilot for the first year focusing on attaining as many climate change mitigation projects on the platform. In the next year, we planned to merge with the current platform to onboard current users as well.

How did this improve me as a designer?
Analytical approach to complex problems

I picked this project because I am passionate about designing for sustainability. However, such "wicked" problems seem complex and intimidating. But, through using the 4D design process, which is build upon the IDEO's design thinking process, I am more confident in tacking challenging problems.

Telling a story to get stakeholder buy in

We found these stories through engaging with users and listening to what they had to say. I found that user told stories are a powerful way to help stakeholders empathise with appropriate design decisions.

Behind the scenes