Awards & contests

Do you want your Big Idea for Building Energy Efficiency to Become a Reality?

The Building Technologies Office (BTO) invites you to send ideas, comments, and votes to, the new ORNL Buildings Crowdsourcing Community. Administered by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the website has been launched as part of the Energy Department’s efforts to reduce energy consumption in homes and buildings and enhance U.S. competitiveness in manufacturing.

Innovators including start-ups, designers, buildings scientists, students, and other big thinkers can use the website to share ideas that could develop into new energy efficient technologies for homes and buildings. Those interested in participating can register through the ORNL Buildings Crowdsourcing Community or they can vote on their favorite entries. The best ideas will be recognized during the Energy Department’s Building Technologies Office Industry Day hosted at ORNL headquarters in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in September 2015.

The ORNL Buildings Crowdsourcing Community will accept submissions, comments, and votes until May 31, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST. After the May 31 deadline, an independent panel of experts will review the most popular submissions. Site members and users can still view the submissions, comments, and votes after the May 31 submission deadline.

Learn more about the ORNL Buildings Crowdsourcing Community by visiting the crowdsourcing webpage.

2015 Indiana Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence now accepting nominations

The State of Indiana is seeking nominations for the 2015 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence. These awards recognize Indiana’s leaders who have implemented outstanding environmental strategies into their operations and decision-making processes.

The Governor’s Awards are open to all Indiana manufacturers and other organizations with projects that qualify under the categories of Pollution Prevention, Energy and Renewable Resources, or Environmental Stewardship.

Nominations must be received (not postmarked) by IDEM by 5 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, April 17, 2015.

For more information please visit

Energy Department Launches Virtual Hackathon to Build the Next Big Solar Software Solutions

Last week, the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative launched the largest-of-its-kind, 60-day online hackathon to quickly build prototype solutions and products that address barriers to greater solar energy deployment and drive down the costs of solar energy. Approximately 700,000 coders, developers, and data scientists are expected to participate in this series of contests to build promising software prototypes to help more American families and businesses go solar.

The SunShot Catalyst Prize program was launched in 2014 to create connections and opportunities for collaboration among solar experts, business innovators, software developers, and entrepreneurs and introduce them to a vast array of software tools, capabilities, data sets, and application program interfaces (APIs) developed by the Energy Department and its national laboratories. Collectively, these innovators are now working via an online crowdsourcing platform to address near-term challenges to greater solar deployment and reduce soft costs that can quickly be tackled with data, apps, and automation.

In January, SunShot selected 17 promising teams with creative business plans for products and solutions that solve solar challenges in the “business innovation” phase of Catalyst. Now, during the “prototyping” contest, the selected teams are awarded up to $25,000 worth of tools to help them run coding competitions for 60 days on Appirio’s TopCoder crowdsourcing development platform. TopCoder provides Catalyst teams with access to the expertise of hundreds of thousands of designers, developers, and technical talent who can help them to build their minimum viable products.

Following the prototyping process, the teams will publically demonstrate their products before a panel of investors, judges, and their peers during the “demo day” in May and, based on their performance, the Department will award up to $500,000 in additional funds to advance these early stage solutions toward commercialization.

Learn more about how SunShot Catalyst is driving the next generation of software solutions to cut solar costs at To participate and compete in the SunShot Catalyst TopCoder Challenge visit the TopCoder website.

Energy Department Announces 2016 Collegiate Wind Competition Participants

The Energy Department has announced the twelve collegiate teams that have been selected to participate in the Department’s second Collegiate Wind Competition. The Collegiate Wind Competition challenges teams of undergraduate students to design and build a model wind turbine based on market research and siting considerations, develop a business plan to market their products, and test their turbines against a set of rigorous performance criteria. Bringing together the next generation of wind energy pioneers with today’s industry leaders, the 2016 Collegiate Wind Competition will take place at the annual American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana, from May 23 to 26, 2016.

The Collegiate Wind Competition combines the expertise of students from a variety of engineering, business, communications, and social science programs, and challenges them to utilize their individual skills to develop state-of-the-art wind energy solutions as a team. Intertwining academic coursework with tangible, hands-on learning, the Collegiate Wind Competition provides valuable real-world experience as students prepare to enter the workforce.

Five new schools have been selected along with seven returning teams from the 2014 competition. The twelve colleges and universities that have been selected to participate in the 2016 Collegiate Wind Competition are:

  1. Boise State University (Idaho)
  2. The California Maritime Academy
  3. California State University, Chico
  4. Kansas State University
  5. Northern Arizona University
  6. The Pennsylvania State University
  7. Universidad del Turabo (Puerto Rico)
  8. University of Alaska Fairbanks
  9. University of Maryland
  10. University of Massachusetts Amherst
  11. University of Massachusetts Lowell
  12. University of Wisconsin Madison

Hailing from across the United States, from Alaska to Puerto Rico, each team brings diverse experiences and unique perspectives to the competition. The Energy Department held the inaugural Collegiate Wind Competition in 2014 at the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada, where over 150 students from ten institutions helped lay the groundwork for what has become the country’s prominent undergraduate-level wind energy competition.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about the Collegiate Wind Competition by visiting the Competition’s official Web page.

National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation – April 1-30

The Wyland Foundation’s Annual National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation held every Earth Month (April 1-30) is a competition that encourages cities across the nation to see who can be the most water wise by asking their residents to take a series of informative, easy to use pledges online to conserve water, energy and other natural resources. The non-profit campaign is presented nationally by Toyota and the Wyland Foundation, in association with NLC, EPA Office of Water, U.S. Forest Service, the Toro Company, Bytelaunch, Inc., Wondergrove Kids, and mayors and water agencies across the country.

Now in it’s fourth year, the challenge has become widely recognized as one of the most engaging, zero-cost outreach tools especially designed for cities and water utilities to encourage conservation in the United States. As a leader, your participation helps conservation-minded residents of your city win over $50,000 in eco-friendly prizes including a Toyota Prius v, water-saving home products, home improvement gift cards and more.

Complete the registration form to show your support and to receive additional information, promotional materials, and ideas for making the challenge a success in your city.

U.S. Green Building Council released a ranking of the nation’s top green-building states

Read the full story from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual list of the Top 10 States for LEED, the world’s most widely used and recognized green building rating system, ranking states in terms of square feet of LEED space per state resident. The per-capita list highlights states throughout the country that are making significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation. LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water resources, save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

Illinois leads among all states for the second consecutive year; newcomers Georgia and Arizona show momentum with LEED in the South and Southwest.