Announcing the Winners of the Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge

Announcing the Winners of the Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge

It’s been a whirlwind few months for all of the University of Houston students participating in the Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge. And we’ve kept you informed every step of the way. Who wouldn’t want to learn how the top young minds of their generation approach sustainable architecture and energy efficient home design?

Well, after a day full of final presentations, three teams were announced as the winners of this inaugural competition!

Announcing the Winners of the Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge
The members of Envirow House – winners of the inaugural Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge
  • First Place: Envirow House– Giovanni Peña, Jessica Hedge, Inbisat Zahara and Travis Franks
  • Second Place: EcoHouse 3W– Kathleen Sobczak, Klvanc Biber, Khoula Mehmood, Mahek Hooda and Himanshu Patel
  • Third Place: Team Chimera– Oluseyi Fatayi Williams, Mark Williams, Eric Choe, Julio Constantino and Jesus Escobar

Sponsored by both Direct Energy and University of Houston Energy, teams competed to design 100% energy-efficient homes while keeping construction costs at or under $80,000 and monthly energy bills under $25. The teams had three goals:

  1. Be responsible with the architecture that was already there;
  2. Be responsible with the environment; and
  3. Empower the dweller to be able to choose their own features.

And for the winning team, this meant being very conscious of building materials from the get-go. As architecture graduate student Giovanni Pena described to The Daily Cougar last week: “The most important thing was insulation. So we used something called EcoBatt insulation, made out of recycled glass bottles and sand that uses less energy to make.”

Key Direct Energy representatives served as judges for the competition included Robbie Wright, Vice-President of Connected Home North America, and Derrick Howard, Field Supervisor for One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating.

Announcing the Winners of the Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge
Badar Khan, Direct Energy CEO, enjoying the various team presentations

Suffice to say, Badar Khan, CEO of Direct Energy, was impressed with the hard work and ingenuity displayed by all the teams, and he felt the “competition is a natural outgrowth of Direct Energy’s belief in a more energy-efficient future.”

Radha Radhakrishnan, joint chief energy officer at the University of Houston, provided effusive praise for the team’s collective ability to meet the rigorous demands of the competition: “It is about challenging them to think about how important energy efficiency is. Energy forecasts predict that over the next 30 years, there will be a huge gap between global energy demand and supply.”

Announcing the Winners of the Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge
Representative Shelia Jackson Lee and Representative Gene Green present Direct Energy CEO Badar Khan with a congressional certificate of appreciation for the Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge. (Left to right: Sheila Jackson Lee, Direct Energy CEO Badar Khan, and Representative Gene Green)

We look forward to following the results of the Energy Efficiency Innovation Challenge, as key stakeholders mull plans on the possible construction of the winning home in the Third Ward area of Houston, TX – conveniently located near the University of Houston campus.

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