Campus wins national competition to promote energy-efficient buildings


Students from the University of Colorado Denver are among the winners of a national competition that challenges college students to develop and present real-world solutions to boost the energy efficiency of buildings across the country.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu recognized the winners of the Better Buildings Case Competition, part of the Energy Department's Better Buildings Challenge, at an event at the White House Monday afternoon. He congratulated the students for their efforts in tackling some of the most common and stubborn barriers to improving energy efficiency.

The winners included CU Denver, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, The George Washington University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Southern California.

Six students from CU Denver's College of Engineering and Applied Science, College of Architecture and Planning and the Business School were part of CU the team. They were challenged to make a hotel more energy efficient without a significant capital investment.

Engineering student Tyler Huggins, the leader of the CU Denver team, said the project was a true collaboration and the biggest challenge was making a hotel more efficient with no money. Huggins said, "We were able to get creative and find some low-hanging fruit. There were some behavioral changes and minor operation changes that amounted to significant savings for the hotel."

Nineteen university teams—led by their respective energy clubs—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 primarily by Partners in the Better Buildings Challenge program, a broad public-private partnership working to achieve President Obama's goal of making America's commercial and industrial buildings 20 percent more efficient by 2020.

This competition provides the next generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and policymakers with skills and experience to start careers in clean energy and generates creative solutions to real-world problems to be used as models by businesses and other organizations across the marketplace.

"Through the Better Buildings Case Competition, the Energy Department is inspiring the clean energy workforce of tomorrow to find innovative solutions that will save energy and money for American families and businesses," said Secretary Chu. "We hope that the high-impact ideas presented by these talented students today will help the companies, cities, universities and other partners participating in the President's Better Buildings Challenge to identify cost-effective, energy-saving improvements they can make in their own buildings."

The student teams competed to find the best solutions to the energy efficiency challenges presented in real-world case studies for the City of Houston, the District of Columbia, HEI Hotels and Resorts, and Cassidy Turley, a major commercial real estate firm.