PLAN 81: Article
Student Team Wins Two Awards In Doe Competition

Contest Focused on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

A team of ten MIT students – seven of them from SA+P – won two awards in the first Better Buildings Case Competition sponsored by the US Department of Energy. The competition challenged students to develop practical solutions to increase the energy efficiency of buildings across the country.

Nineteen schools took part in the contest, each assigned two case scenarios to address, and the results – announced at the White House in March by Energy Secretary Steven Chu – revealed that MIT had won both its cases, the only team to do so.

Led by their respective energy clubs, the nineteen university teams analyzed cases 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 toward making the country’s commercial and industrial buildings 20% more efficient by 2020.

The students presented their ideas and written proposals to a panel of commercial real estate and energy expert judges and two winners were recognized for each case study. The MIT team’s awards:

  • For the Walter Reed Army Medical Center site, they were asked to propose recommendations on a package of policy, financial and other tools that the District of Columbia should apply to ensure the site’s redevelopment will achieve and maintain the District's goals for energy and water efficiency.

    They won the Most Innovative Proposal award for recommending a district energy system based on a build-own-and-operate service model to provide energy, manage the distribution system and interface with customers. The proposed financing for the system would come from the provider or a lender and be based on revenue rather than using public funds.

  • For a case study focused on a NYC building managed by Cassidy Turley, a major commercial real estate firm, they were asked to suggest solutions to the classic multitenant office building retrofit scenario, where the challenges of limited capital and split incentives between owners and tenants must be solved in order to implement energy efficiency projects.

    They won the Best Proposal award for recommending a four-step process including engaging and negotiating with tenants in a realistic, multiphase project; implementing energy efficiency upgrades; aligning new tenants as leases turn over; and launching a 'Go for Green' program.

SA+P participants included Elena Alschuler, Brendan McEwen, Nikhil Nadkarni, Christopher Jones and Wesley Look from planning, Kate Goldstein from architecture and Nan Zhao from the Media Lab. The team also included Patrick Flynn, Neheet Trivedi and Zachary Mallow from Sloan. The faculty advisor was planning lecturer Harvey Michaels.