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Students Present Ideas for Better Buildings

Students from across the country came to the White House to present their ideas for energy efficient buildings.

President Obama has called for an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and one way we can prepare for the future is to engage students in creating energy solutions for the future. Recently, students from across the country came to the White House to present their ideas for energy efficient buildings. University teams—led by their respective energy club—tackled cases that focus on a number of the most common, most stubborn barriers to energy efficiency in both the private sector and in state and local settings. The students came from a variety of academic programs, including engineering, real estate, business/management, and policy.

The cases use real scenarios, information, and data provided by Better Buildings Challenge Partners and others in the commercial buildings industry. Students presented on two city policy scenarios and two private real estate scenarios, answering questions such as, "What is the best mechanism to significantly move the energy efficiency market?" Their creative and innovative solutions addressed policy, finance, business and real estate challenges.

Discussing Winners

Reviewing student ideas, from left: Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council; Energy Secretary Chu; and Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency.

This forum 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.

The event supported the Better Buildings Challenge, a national energy efficiency leadership initiative and a core element of President Obama's plan to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. In addition to supporting significant energy reduction, the Better Buildings Challenge is focused on finding solutions to persistent barriers to energy efficiency that have limited the energy efficiency market.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the winners of the competition and congratulated them for their efforts to tackle some of the most common and stubborn barriers to improving energy efficiency.

Secretary Chu with Winners

Energy Secretary Steven Chu (3rd from left) pictured with the student team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the winning teams.

Participating Universities:
Babson College
Carnegie Mellon University
Columbia University
Dartmouth College
Duke University
The George Washington University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Harvard University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Texas A&M University
Tufts University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Irvine
University of Colorado, Denver
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Southern California
Vanderbilt University
Yale University

Read more on the President's Better Buildings Initiative.

Maria Vargas is Director of the Better Buildings Challenge at the U.S. Department of Energy