Energy Department Announces Winners of Student Competition to Promote Energy Efficient Buildings

March 08, 2013

The Energy Department announced today the winners of the second annual Better Buildings Case Competition, which challenges university teams to develop and present real-world business and technical solutions to cut energy waste and improve the efficiency commercial buildings across the country. The winners included the Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California-Santa Barbara, University of Chicago, and Yale University. The Better Buildings Case Competition supports President Obama's goal of cutting energy waste from homes and businesses in half over the next two decades, as announced in the State of the Union address.

This year, 14 university teams analyzed case studies focusing on a range of challenges faced by private-sector organizations and state and local governments who are looking to improve the energy efficiency of their operations. The case studies consisted of real scenarios, background information, and data provided by organizations that included partners in the Better Buildings Challenge program—a broad public-private partnership working to make America's commercial and industrial buildings 20% more efficient by 2020.

Drawing together skills and experience in engineering, real estate, finance, and urban planning, the competition provides the next generation of entrepreneurs and policymakers with an opportunity to tackle real-world problems and identify creative solutions that can be used as models for other businesses and organizations across the marketplace. This annual competition also helps launch students' careers in clean energy and energy efficiency. Previous case partners have recruited competing students for internships or full-time positions.

This year, student teams competed to find the best solutions to energy efficiency challenges presented in real-world case studies for the City of Fort Worth, the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub, the U.S. General Services Administration, and the "Everything Store," representative of several retail stores including Kohl's, Staples, and Target. On Friday afternoon, these teams presented their ideas and written proposals to a panel of commercial real estate and energy experts at the White House. Read more information on the specific case studies.

The following university teams won their respective competitions:

City of Fort Worth Case Study: Students developed strategies to help the City of Fort Worth and local utilities and industry work together to achieve the Better Building Challenge goal to make commercial and industrial buildings 20% more energy efficient by 2020.

  • Best Proposal—Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Most Innovative—Carnegie Mellon University

Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) Hub Case Study: Students examined strategies for the EEB Hub to help Montgomery County, Pennsylvania complete a renovation that achieves significant energy savings in a publicly-owned, multitenant office building.

  • Best Proposal—Yale University
  • Most Innovative—University of California-Santa Barbara

"Everything Store" Case Study: Students recommended criteria for selecting among potential options to increase cooling efficiency in big box retail stores by upgrading rooftop unit technology.

  • Best Proposal—Carnegie Mellon University
  • Most Innovative—Massachusetts Institute of Technology

U.S. General Services Administration Case Study: Students proposed strategies for energy metering and measurement to meet federal savings goals in government buildings across the United States.

  • Best Proposal—Yale University
  • Most Innovative—University of Chicago