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Better Buildings Case Competition

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Jason Koman (Energy Technology Program Specialist, U.S. Department of Energy), Kinga Porst (Sustainability and Green Buildings Program Advisor at U.S. General Services Administration), David Danielson (Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy), Jim Nobil (Senior Realty Policy Specialist at U.S. General Services Administration), Ron Hachey (Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy), Marshall Duer-Balkind (Energy Benchmarking Specialist, District Department of the Environment).

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(1st picture): A crowd of students and judges engage in an "Emerging Policies" panel discussion at the 2013 BBCC. (2nd picture): 2012 BBCC winners from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology meet with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. (3rd picture): 2013 BBCC judges, Tari Emerson, Kohl's Department Store; Bob Valair, Staples; and Pat Maher, Burton Energy Group, converse with students.

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Mona Khalil (Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Energy). Casey Bell (Senior Economic Analyst and Finance Policy Lead at American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy), Mark Stutman (Advanced Energy Retrofit Project Development Manager at The Pennsylvania State University), David Danielson (Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy), Laurie Actman (Interim Director at Energy Efficient Buildings Hub), Kenneth Starr (Director of Assets & Infrastructure at Montgomery County, Pennsylvania).

Image of student presenting

(1st picture): A crowd of students and judges engage in a panel discussion at the 2013 BBCC. (2nd picture): Secretary of Energy Steven Chu prepares for his address to students at the 2012 BBCC. (3rd picture): Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Kaitlin Goldstein asks a question to the panel at the 2013 BBCC.

Better Buildings Case Competition

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) annual Better Buildings Case Competition engages the next generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and policy makers to develop creative solutions to real-world energy efficiency problems for businesses and other organizations across the marketplace. Through the competition, interdisciplinary teams of university students gain critical skills and experience to start careers in clean energy. Since its launch in 2012, the competition has supported the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Initiative goal to reduce energy consumption by at least 20% by 2020 in commercial and industrial buildings across the U.S.

The Better Buildings Case Competition focuses on any issues affecting energy efficiency in buildings. High profile case partners and the Department of Energy describe real-world energy efficiency issues in the form of “cases,” which are then distributed to teams of graduate and undergraduate students. Interdisciplinary teams, from US institutes of higher education, have roughly three months to formulate 10-page solutions based on their own research and resources provided by case partners. The competition culminates in an all day workshop in Washington, DC where student teams present their solutions to expert judges and case partners for open comment followed by development and networking opportunities.

This year’s final event was held at the DOE campus on March 14, 2014, and included many opportunities for participating students. The event serves as a high-profile platform where students can showcase their most creative ideas and solutions, receive feedback from the judges, and interact directly with industry and government leaders.

The following university teams won their respective competitions:

Welcome Home to Savings: Distributed Generation in Multifamily Housing Case Study: Students developed a replicable strategy to expand energy efficiency and distributed generation at federally assisted housing complexes.

  • Most Innovative—Team Xenergy from University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Best Proposal—Team Millennial Makers from Stanford University

Picking up PACE: Taking Commercial PACE Financing to Scale Case Study: Students developed a program structure and a business plan that states can use to effectively implement PACE financing and scale up energy efficiency.

  • Most Innovative—Team Green Dinosaurs from University of California, San Diego
  • Best Proposal—Team Everpower from Carnegie Mellon University

Electri-City: Energy Management in Public Buildings Case Study: Students developed a scalable, sustainable, and replicable energy data acquisition and management strategy for publicly owned buildings.

  • Most Innovative—Team First Fuel from MIT
  • Best Proposal—Team 2030 from Yale University

Experimenting with Efficiency: Greening the Grant Process for Research Institutions Case Study:Students developed a business case and implementation strategy for universities to promote energy efficiency projects on their campuses funded by external grants.

  • Most Innovative—Team Golden Energtech from University of California, Berkeley and Xenergy from University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Best Proposal—Team First Fuel from MIT

Here Comes the Sun: Satisfying RPS with Solar Case Study: Students developed a cost effective solar incentive program strategy for utility companies charged with meeting Renewable Portfolio Standards.

  • Most Innovative—Team Delta Eta from Columbia University
  • Best Proposal—Team 2030 from Yale University

A Side of Savings: Energy Efficiency in the Restaurant Franchise Model Case Study: Students were challenged to develop a strategy for restaurant franchises to deploy energy efficiency solutions, including consideration of the complicated ownership, investment, and management.

  • Most Innovative—Crown Joules from Harvard University
  • Best Proposal—Everpower from Carnegie Mellon University

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