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April 15, 2013

Booth-Harris Team Wins ‘Most Innovative Solution’ Prize at the White House

By Shruti Mathure '13  |  april, 2013, Issue 1
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The winning Booth-Harris BBCC team (L to R): Hans Stege, Alex Frank, Evan Johnson, Patrick Woods, Dr. David Danielson (Assistant Secretary, EERE), Shruti Mathure, Jessica van der Vooren and Jorge Caraballo. Not pictured: Ben Mactiernan.

"We specialize in cracking the tough nut!" responded Hans Stege '14 to the first question posed by judges regarding the logo of a squirrel used on the slides for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) case presentation at the White House on Mar. 8. The squirrel was merely a replacement for the Booth logo that had to be removed due to competition rules, but it started an interesting conversation about the solution proposed by the Booth-Harris team.

The team presented a sub-metering proposal for more than nine thousand buildings that are owned or leased by the U.S. GSA, such as offices, warehouses and labs. The proposal consisted of a decision tree to determine which buildings should be targeted first, the costs associated with implementing metering, ways to obtain financing and further steps such as lighting and HVAC upgrades to improve energy efficiency. The goal was not only to cut down energy costs but also to meet the federal mandates for reduction of energy use in publicly owned buildings. The Booth team's proposal won the "Most Innovative Solution" prize for the GSA case at the Better Buildings 2013 challenge.

The team also did a fantastic job tackling the Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) Hub case where they outlined the design elements that would promote energy efficiency along with the appropriate financing mechanisms for the Hub, a publicly owned large office building in Pennsylvania that is undergoing renovation. The team presented to a panel of distinguished judges from the Department of Energy and local governments, and also had the opportunity to attend speaker panels on emerging technologies and energy regulation. Finally, the awards ceremony took place in the Eisenhower Building at the White House in DC.

The Better Buildings Case Competition is an annual challenge organized by the U.S. Department of Energy to seek solutions to real problems faced by the government as well as public-private partnerships in the energy efficiency space. A couple of cases are handed out to each student team which submits a full proposal outlining financing and implementation, and presents its ideas to judges on the final day of the challenge. This year, the competition had cross-disciplinary teams from fourteen schools around the country, including The University of Chicago, MIT, Columbia and Yale. The case competition was inaugurated by Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu and Assistant Secretary Dr. David Danielson in 2012. This is the first year that Booth participated in and won the challenge.

The team consisted of six students from the Booth full-time program: Jorge Caraballo '13, Ben Mactiernan '13, Shruti Mathure '13, Hans Stege '14, Jessica van der Vooren '14, Patrick Woods '13; one Booth-Harris joint student: Evan Johnson '14 and one Harris Student: Alex Frank '13. The interest in the energy sector at Booth is very strong as seen from the enthusiastic response to events organized by the Booth Energy Group. This challenge proved that Booth students have the right combination of technical and finance skills to make such projects work.

Last Updated 4/15/13
Last Updated 4/15/13