Sustainable and Resilient

The objective of this challenge is to develop novel technical solutions to improve the resilience and sustainability of the built environment and identify ways for each proposed solution to enable underserved communities to adapt, persist, and recover from extreme weather and persistent stress, such as those caused by climate change1.

Background

Source: iStock

People around the world are experiencing an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events1 and persistent stresses on the environment, society, and economy 2. Extreme weather events are not always singular or isolated; they can occur in complex combinations and/or rapid succession 3. Depending on the exposure (i.e., presence of people, livelihoods, assets, buildings, services, infrastructure, etc.) and vulnerability of the affected region and communities, an extreme weather event may become a disaster; damage the natural and built environment and infrastructure; and pose a threat to public health, safety, and well-being4. The impact of extreme weather and persistent stress is significantly greater on underserved, marginalized, and vulnerable communities, which often lack the resources and capacity to recover5. Climate change will increase the number of extreme weather events6. There is an urgent need to design more resilient and sustainable buildings and infrastructure that mitigate the impact of extreme weather events, especially in disadvantaged communities7.

The core idea of sustainability is to reduce negative impacts on the environment. Sustainability focuses on improving quality of life through practices that minimize damage to the environment8. Resilience relates to adaptation to change and focuses on disaster preparedness, mitigation, and recovery9Resilience is typically viewed as the response to low-probability, high-impact events, whereas sustainability is the response to high-probability events for which the impacts are spread out over the infrastructure life cycle10. A resilient and sustainable design focuses on the response of systems to both extreme weather and persistent stress utilizing sustainable design principles.

Building-scale strategies for improving resilience can address one or more aspects of building structure, enclosure, systems, operations, and building use11. Community-level strategies for improving resilience of building stock and infrastructure may require a multipronged approach, including mandatory upgrades, incentive programs, funding mechanisms, and education/outreach programs12.

Many emerging technologies focus on improving the resilience of the U.S. building infrastructure and electricity grid. For example, smart grid technologies use communication and information technology to collect information on the behavior of customers and automatically improve efficiency and reliability in distributing electricity13. Microgrids14 with distributed energy resources15 include small-scale units of power generation that operate locally and can be connected to a larger power grid at the distribution level, thereby improving the quality and reliability of service16. Grid-interactive efficient buildings use an optimized blend of energy efficiency, energy storage, renewable energy, and load flexibility technologies enabled through smart controls17.

It is important to recognize the potential opportunities and challenges in integrating resilience and sustainability goals. In most cases, resilience and sustainability objectives complement each other. For example, systems that are more resilient can better achieve and maintain sustainable operation. Systems that are more sustainable lose less critical functionality and recover more quickly in response to economic, environmental, and social disturbances. However, resilience and sustainability objectives can also compete with each other. For example, oversizing a system for extreme weather conditions may result in non-optimal system performance. Resilience strategies focused on rapid recovery may not achieve long-term sustainability10,18. Therefore, balanced solutions are needed to optimize both resilience and sustainability.

The Challenge

Addressing this challenge requires understanding the vulnerability that various communities face from extreme weather and persistent stressors and then addressing that vulnerability by comprehensively considering equity, resilience, and sustainability. Students may consider strategies for improving resilience and sustainability of buildings and infrastructure at the building or community scale for new construction, existing buildings, or communities. The solutions must have resilience as the primary objective with sustainability as a component of resilience and must justify trade-offs considered for reconciling any divergent goals of resilience and sustainability.

Suggestions for student teams include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Develop innovative design and construction solutions for improving the resilience of buildings
  • Develop smart controls for improving the resilience of building infrastructure and the electricity grid
  • Develop integrated technical and planning solutions for improving community resilience.

Student submissions should: 

  • Describe the scope and context of the problem based on a current or emergent problem(s) in the United States
  • Identify affected communities, making sure to include underserved, marginalized, and/or vulnerable communities
  • Develop a novel technical solution to address the problem at a clearly defined building or community scale; the solution must include technical and nontechnical aspects such as policy or economic solutions and may focus on new or existing buildings or planned or existing communities
  • Discuss how issues of equity are incorporated into strategies to improve resilience and sustainability
  • Discuss appropriate and expected impacts (including any unintended consequences) and benefits of the proposed solution; these may include quantifiable and nonquantifiable benefits19 such as health and safety of the affected population, size of the community affected, number of households relocated, avoided cost of losses, loss of businesses, and loss of lives
  • Develop a plan that describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to implementation, such as a technology-to-market plan for a commercially viable, market-ready product for real buildings and communities, and/or integration into the planning and design process.

Downloadable Challenge Description

Additional Challenge Resources

Submission Template

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions and Rules document for eligibility requirements and rules. Please note that you must begin your Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application before or at the same time as you submit your idea in order to compete in the JUMP competition.

Please submit the following as a single-spaced PDF document that is a written narrative of the team’s proposed solution. PowerPoints or submissions in presentation format do not meet the requirement. 

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
    • Form a team of 2‒4 students. These students represent the project team and will all consult on the problem.
    • The Project Team Background should include:
      • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
      • Team mission statement
      • A short biography for each team member; this should include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the Challenge.
      • Diversity statement (minimum 1 paragraph, 5‒7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in STEM, meaning that certain groups are underrepresented or have been historically excluded from STEM fields. These groups include, but are not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. If there are barriers that affect the racial, ethnic, and/or gender breakdown of your team, please elaborate. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. The diversity statement is your opportunity to describe your team’s diversity of background and thought, both generally and as applicable to your chosen Challenge.
    • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select 1 of the 3 Challenges to address.
    • Investigate the background of the Challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem, a part of the supply chain, or manufacturing of the technology product(s), as well as those who may have decision-making power and are able to provide solutions (technical or nontechnical solutions, such as policies). For example, you could include stakeholders who have previously experienced environmental pollution or a high energy burden. Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Justice and Environmental Justice
    • Write a 1- to 2-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and the stakeholder groups affected by or involved in the problem. The stakeholder groups can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing). The problem statement should clearly identify the injustices (energy or environmental) that the stakeholder group experiences. Students should consider social implications related to the identified injustices.
    • Develop and describe a novel solution that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. The solution must be technical and also include one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, and/or other.
    • Address the requirements for your selected Challenge as written in the Challenge description. Include graphs, figures, and photos. Discuss the feasibility of your solution and how it will impact your stakeholders, especially those who have experienced the injustices that you described in your problem statement.
    • Develop a technology-to-market plan. A technology-to-market plan describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to installation on real buildings, or integrated into the design of real buildings, and includes a cost/benefit analysis.
      • The cost/benefit analysis does not need to be exhaustive and should include comparing the solution to current or existing technologies or practices. Benefits, such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity, should be evaluated.
      • The plan should also discuss which key stakeholder(s) should be involved to commercialize the technology and then sell and install the technologies with your target market(s).
    • Perform a market adoption barrier The team should identify at least one key market adoption barrier for implementation and specifically address how the proposed solution will overcome that barrier.
      • Barriers should align with key stakeholder(s) identified by the student team.
    • Include references. References will not count toward the 5-page maximum.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Evaluation Criteria

Solution (40%)

  • Solution: Please rate the solution and its ability to address the problem statement. The solution must be a technical solution and include one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, or other. How well does the proposed solution address the problem and stakeholder needs?
  • Feasibility: Please rate the solution’s overall feasibility and potential, including its viability. For example, solutions that are not technically possible or that lack a technical feasibility discussion will receive lower scores. 
  • Novelty: Please rate the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry. 
  • Impact: Please rate the overall potential impact of the team’s solution. For example, can the solution be extended to communities, similar stakeholder groups, or a nationwide solution? 

Market Readiness (30%)

  • Market Characterization: Please rate the team’s understanding of the market and the stakeholder group(s) identified by the problem statement. 
  • Technology-to-Market: Please rate the team’s proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs, and the team’s cost/benefit analysis. 
  • Overcoming Adoption Barriers: Please rate the team’s identification of and plan for overcoming adoption barriers for proposed solution. This includes how the solution will create value, both economic and other, to drive industry adoption. 

Diversity and Justice (20%)

  • Diversity Statement and Project Team Background: Please rate how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in its diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—ensuring diversity of thought. See the diversity statement in the Challenge requirements. This also includes how well the teams connect their mission statement and biographies to their problem statement. 
  • Environmental and Energy Justice: Please rate how well the proposed solution addresses environmental and energy justice. 

Submission (10%)

  • Submission Requirements: Please rate how well the student team followed all submission requirements. See the submission paper requirements section of this rules document and at the bottom of each Challenge description. 

How to Create a Successful Submission

Citations

  1.  Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. 2022. “Extreme Weather and Climate Change.” https://www.c2es.org/content/extreme-weather-and-climate-change/
  2.  Carleton, T. A., and Hsiang, S. M. 2016. “Social and economic impacts of climate.” Science 353(6304).  https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aad9837
  3.  European Environment Agency. 2003. Mapping the impacts of recent natural disasters and technological accidents in Europe. Environmental Issue Report No. 35/2003. https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/environmental_issue_report_2004_35/download
  4.  O’Brien, K., et al. 2012. “Toward a sustainable and resilient future.” In: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (Field, C. B., et al. [eds.]). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, 437–486. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/SREX-Chap8_FINAL-1.pdf
  5.  United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. 2016. Poverty and Death: Disaster and Mortality, 1996–2015. https://www.preventionweb.net/files/50589_creddisastermortalityallfinalpdf.pdf
  6.  Harvey, C. 2018. “Extreme Weather Will Occur More Frequently Worldwide.” Scientific American. February 15, 2018. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/extreme-weather-will-occur-more-frequently-worldwide/
  7.  Achour, N., Pantzartzis, E., Pascale, F., and Price, A. D. F. 2015. “Integration of resilience and sustainability: from theory to application.” International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment 6(3), 347–362. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-05-2013-0016
  8.  Collier, Z. A., Wang, D., Vogel, J. T., Tatham, E. K., and Linkov, I. 2013. “Sustainable roofing technology under multiple constraints: a decision-analytical approach.” Environment Systems and Decisions 33, 261–271. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-013-9446-5
  9.  Lizarralde, G., Chmutina, K., Bosher, L., and Dainty, A. 2015. “Sustainability and resilience in the built environment: The challenges of establishing a turquoise agenda in the UK.” Sustainable Cities and Society 15, 96–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2014.12.004
  10.  Marchese, D., Reynolds, E., Bates, M. E., Morgan, H., Clark, S. S., and Linkov, I. 2018. “Resilience and sustainability: Similarities and differences in environmental management applications.” Science of the Total Environment 613–614, 1275–1283. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.09.086
  11.  Alfraidi, Y., and Boussabaine, A. H. 2015. “Design Resilient Building Strategies in Face of Climate Change.” World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Journal of Architectural and Environmental Engineering 9(1), 23–28. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1338054
  12.  Boston Green Ribbon Commission Climate Preparedness Working Group. 2013. Building Resilience in Boston: Best Practices for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience for Existing Buildings. https://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/Building_Resilience_in_Boston_FINAL_tcm3-40185.pdf
  13.  US Department of Energy. 2021. “The Smart Grid: An Introduction.” https://www.energy.gov/oe/downloads/smart-grid-introduction-0
  14.  US Department of Energy. 2014. “How Microgrids Work.” https://www.energy.gov/articles/how-microgrids-work
  15.  US Department of Energy. 2021. “Distributed Energy Resources for Resilience.” https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/distributed-energy-resources-resilience
  16.  US Department of Energy. 2021. “Solar Integration: Distributed Energy Resources and Microgrids.” https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-integration-distributed-energy-resources-and-microgrids
  17.  Rocky Mountain Institute. 2021. “Grid-Interactive Energy-Efficient Buildings (GEBS).” https://rmi.org/our-work/buildings/pathways-to-zero/grid-integrated-energy-efficient-buildings/
  18.  Phillips, R., Troup, L., Fannon, D., Eckelman, M. J. 2017. “Do resilient and sustainable design strategies conflict in commercial buildings? A critical analysis of existing resilient building frameworks and their sustainability implications.” Energy and Buildings, 146 (2017), 295–311. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ENBUILD.2017.04.009.
  19.  Whole Building Design Guide. 2020. “Consider Non-Quantifiable Benefits.” https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/cost-effective/consider-non-monetary-benefits

It’s Electric

The objective of this challenge is to increase the electrification of U.S. buildings (residential, commercial, new, or existing). Student team solutions should lead to reductions in energy use and carbon emissions through electrification solutions, and students should emphasize reducing inequalities in obtaining technologies for identified stakeholder groups.

Background

The United States has a long-term goal to decarbonize the electric grid1. This will require several market transformations across multiple sectors, including renewable power generation and storage options, increased energy efficiency adoption and timely use of energy across homes and places of work, and a shift away from burning fossil fuels for all appliances and equipment. Buildings will play an integral role in achieving decarbonization objectives, and eliminating the burning of fossil fuels, also known as electrification, will be a crucial step.

Source: Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

Buildings directly burn fossil fuels, such as natural gas and propane, often for space heating and water heating, as well as various appliances (e.g., cooking, clothes drying). In 2021, nearly 48% of energy consumed by the combined residential and commercial building sectors came from directly burning fossil fuels 2. This represents almost one-fifth of all energy consumed by the United States each year 3. In 2020, the residential and commercial sectors were the main consumers of energy, accounting for 40% (i.e., 22% and 18%, respectively) of the total U.S. energy consumption 4. Space heating accounted for 43% of total energy in residential buildings in 2015, where 69% of energy for the space heating was provided by the natural gas 5. Only 14% of energy for space heating is provided by electricity 5.

Natural gas is the primary space heating and water heating fuel source for nearly half of all commercial buildings and is the main commercial fuel source in the Northeast, Midwest, and West 6. In addition to natural gas, nearly 10% of commercial buildings report using propane and fuel oils for space heating, leaving approximately 30% currently utilizing electricity as the primary source for space heating 3.

Such a substantial transformation across the residential and commercial building sectors will require innovative solutions, as well as widespread adoption of both new and existing technologies. An example technology requiring both innovation and increased adoption is heat pumps. Heat pumps are an efficient and effective electrification option for both space heating and water heating. It is estimated that less than 15% of commercial buildings utilize heat pumps as heating equipment 6, and when they are in use, heat pumps are more commonly found in warmer regions of the U.S. There is an opportunity to solve market barriers that limit more widespread adoption of heat pumps in warmer climates, but also to advance the technology to improve operation and ultimately market transformation in colder climates.

Research has also documented large upfront costs associated with the installation of heat pumps compared to traditional central air conditioning and furnace systems. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) reported that based on 2018 prices, the installation cost of a residential air-source heat pump ranged between 50% and 200% more than conventional central air conditioning systems with a natural gas furnace for heating 7. This significant increase in costs may limit adoption potential, especially in lower socioeconomic communities.

In addition to high-performance electric technologies that replace fuel-fired equipment, other solutions such as those addressing electrical infrastructure will be required. Consider that almost half of the U.S. housing stock was built before 1970 8. Unless a home has had a substantial electrical infrastructure upgrade, most of these homes have electrical breaker panels with 100-amp service or less 9. As appliances and equipment shift away from fossil fuels such as natural gas or propane, new electrical infrastructure will be needed in order to support electrification technologies—at an average cost of $1,300–$2,500 per home to upgrade to 200-amp service 10, not to mention additional constraints and implications from charging electric vehicles.

The Challenge

This topic challenges student teams to develop an innovative solution that will address electrification in buildings. Students can focus on any aspect related to this transition away from directly burning fossil fuels on-site. Solutions can be considered at the individual building and multibuilding scale. Student teams should first develop a focused problem statement for a specific stakeholder group and then develop a technical solution or process to solve the chosen problem.

Suggestions for student teams include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Develop new equipment or technologies to replace fuel-fired equipment or appliances with high-performance electric options.
  • Improve existing electrification equipment or technologies to significantly increase capabilities.
  • Develop technologies or processes for right-sizing heat pumps, including technologies or processes that combine right-sizing of heat pumps with other envelope upgrade packages.
  • Develop technologies or processes to identify optimal combinations of heat pump equipment and building envelope system upgrades.
  • Develop new equipment, technologies, or processes to address electrical infrastructure for homes and commercial spaces to allow electrification of building loads.
  • Develop solutions that include advanced controls with specific intent to optimize existing electrical infrastructure to accommodate new electrical loads.

Student submissions must:

  • Describe the scope and context of the chosen problem.
  • Identify affected stakeholders, making sure to consider socioeconomically vulnerable and historically excluded, underserved, and frontline communities (communities at the “front line” of pollution and climate change 11).
  • Develop a technical solution to the chosen problem for the targeted stakeholder group. The solution may also include policy solutions, supply chain and manufacturing processes, economic solutions, or other aspects critical to identified stakeholder barriers, but a technical solution must be proposed.
  • Discuss appropriate and expected impacts and benefits of the proposed solution. This should include a cost/benefit analysis, a market adoption analysis, and should also consider non-economic costs and benefits, such as occupant health, productivity, and well-being 12.
  • Develop a plan that describes how the team envisions bringing its idea to scale in the market, including sales or distribution channels, outreach mechanisms, stakeholder engagement, and other relevant details.

Downloadable Challenge Description

Additional Challenge Resources

Submission Template

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions and Rules document for eligibility requirements and rules. Please note that you must begin your Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application before or at the same time as you submit your idea in order to compete in the JUMP competition.

Please submit the following as a single-spaced PDF document that is a written narrative of the team’s proposed solution. PowerPoints or submissions in presentation format do not meet the requirement. 

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
    • Form a team of 2‒4 students. These students represent the project team and will all consult on the problem.
    • The Project Team Background should include:
      • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
      • Team mission statement
      • A short biography for each team member; this should include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the Challenge.
      • Diversity statement (minimum 1 paragraph, 5‒7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in STEM, meaning that certain groups are underrepresented or have been historically excluded from STEM fields. These groups include, but are not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. If there are barriers that affect the racial, ethnic, and/or gender breakdown of your team, please elaborate. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. The diversity statement is your opportunity to describe your team’s diversity of background and thought, both generally and as applicable to your chosen Challenge.
    • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select 1 of the 3 Challenges to address.
    • Investigate the background of the Challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem, a part of the supply chain, or manufacturing of the technology product(s), as well as those who may have decision-making power and are able to provide solutions (technical or nontechnical solutions, such as policies). For example, you could include stakeholders who have previously experienced environmental pollution or a high energy burden. Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Justice and Environmental Justice
    • Write a 1- to 2-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and the stakeholder groups affected by or involved in the problem. The stakeholder groups can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing). The problem statement should clearly identify the injustices (energy or environmental) that the stakeholder group experiences. Students should consider social implications related to the identified injustices.
    • Develop and describe a novel solution that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. The solution must be technical and also include one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, and/or other.
    • Address the requirements for your selected Challenge as written in the Challenge description. Include graphs, figures, and photos. Discuss the feasibility of your solution and how it will impact your stakeholders, especially those who have experienced the injustices that you described in your problem statement.
    • Develop a technology-to-market plan. A technology-to-market plan describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to installation on real buildings, or integrated into the design of real buildings, and includes a cost/benefit analysis.
      • The cost/benefit analysis does not need to be exhaustive and should include comparing the solution to current or existing technologies or practices. Benefits, such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity, should be evaluated.
      • The plan should also discuss which key stakeholder(s) should be involved to commercialize the technology and then sell and install the technologies with your target market(s).
    • Perform a market adoption barrier The team should identify at least one key market adoption barrier for implementation and specifically address how the proposed solution will overcome that barrier.
      • Barriers should align with key stakeholder(s) identified by the student team.
    • Include references. References will not count toward the 5-page maximum.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Evaluation Criteria

Solution (40%)

  • Solution: Please rate the solution and its ability to address the problem statement. The solution must be a technical solution and include one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, or other. How well does the proposed solution address the problem and stakeholder needs?
  • Feasibility: Please rate the solution’s overall feasibility and potential, including its viability. For example, solutions that are not technically possible or that lack a technical feasibility discussion will receive lower scores. 
  • Novelty: Please rate the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry. 
  • Impact: Please rate the overall potential impact of the team’s solution. For example, can the solution be extended to communities, similar stakeholder groups, or a nationwide solution? 

Market Readiness (30%)

  • Market Characterization: Please rate the team’s understanding of the market and the stakeholder group(s) identified by the problem statement. 
  • Technology-to-Market: Please rate the team’s proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs, and the team’s cost/benefit analysis. 
  • Overcoming Adoption Barriers: Please rate the team’s identification of and plan for overcoming adoption barriers for proposed solution. This includes how the solution will create value, both economic and other, to drive industry adoption. 

Diversity and Justice (20%)

  • Diversity Statement and Project Team Background: Please rate how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in its diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—ensuring diversity of thought. See the diversity statement in the Challenge requirements. This also includes how well the teams connect their mission statement and biographies to their problem statement. 
  • Environmental and Energy Justice: Please rate how well the proposed solution addresses environmental and energy justice. 

Submission (10%)

  • Submission Requirements: Please rate how well the student team followed all submission requirements. See the submission paper requirements section of this rules document and at the bottom of each Challenge description. 

How to Create a Successful Submission

Citations

  1. The White House. 2021. “President Biden Signs Executive Order Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Economy Through Federal Sustainability.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/08/fact-sheet-president-biden-signs-executive-order-catalyzing-americas-clean-energy-economy-through-federal-sustainability/.
  2. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2022. “Natural Gas.” https://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/.  
  3. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2022. “Use of Energy Explained.” https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/use-of-energy/.  
  4. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2021. “Monthly Energy Review.” https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/previous.php.
  5. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2018. “2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) Data.” https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/data/2015/c&e/pdf/ce3.1.pdf.
  6. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2021. “2018 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey: Building Characteristics Results.” https://www.eia.gov/consumption/commercial/data/2018/pdf/CBECS_2018_Building_Characteristics_Flipbook.pdf.  
  7. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. 2019. “Analysis of Residential Heat Pump Potential and Economics.” https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/-/media/Project/Nyserda/Files/Publications/PPSER/NYSERDA/18-44-HeatPump.pdf.
  8. Sarkar, Mousumi. 2011. How American Homes Vary by the Year They Were Built. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau. Working Paper No. 2011-18. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/programs-surveys/ahs/working-papers/Housing-by-Year-Built.pdf.  
  9. Thiele, Timothy. 2022. “How Electrical Service Panels Have Evolved.” The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/service-panels-changed-in-the-1900s-1152732.  
  10. The Home Guide. 2022. “How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade or Replace An Electrical Panel?” https://homeguide.com/costs/cost-to-replace-electrical-panel.  
  11. Initiative for Energy Justice. 2022. https://iejusa.org.   
  12. Whole Building Design Guide. 2020. “Consider Non-Quantifiable Benefits.” https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/cost-effective/consider-non-monetary-benefits.   

Curb Your Carbon

The objective of this challenge is to develop an innovative solution that will reduce carbon emissions from U.S. buildings (residential, commercial, new, or existing). Student problem statements can focus on embodied carbon, carbon sequestration and storage, and/or operational carbon emissions. Innovative solutions should lead to significant reductions in carbon emissions, and fewer inequalities in obtaining new technologies for identified stakeholder groups.

Background

Source: iStock

Buildings account for about 40% of energy-related carbon emissions worldwide 1. Carbon emissions generally refer to carbon (primarily carbon dioxide—CO2) that is released into the atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gases that trap heat and warm the planet 2. Energy-related carbon emissions come from a variety of sources including the emissions related to energy consumption in buildings (both electricity and fossil fuels), known as operational carbon emissions, as well as carbon emissions related to material manufacturing and all other construction processes, known as embodied carbon. Residential and commercial buildings in the United States match global trends, with annual operational carbon emissions totaling 29% of all U.S. emissions when the CO2 emissions from the generation and distribution of electricity are factored in 3.

The United States has committed to significantly reducing carbon emissions by 2030 4. A unique characteristic of buildings—when compared to other carbon-emitting sectors such as personal vehicles and transportation—is that buildings have a comparatively slower turnover rate. The average age of U.S. homes and commercial buildings is around 45 years old 2, with projected life expectancies anywhere from 75 to 100 years or more 5. Additionally, the U.S. population is projected to grow 20%–25% between now and 2060,6 which will continue to increase demand for housing and commercial floor space. As with any multifaceted and complex problem, there are many opportunities for solutions addressing carbon reductions in our buildings—both operational and embodied.

The architectural and design community has been focused on employing strategies and processes to reduce embodied carbon for many years. Examples include design practices focused on renovation and reuse of existing buildings and materials, selecting building products that have minimal carbon emissions during manufacturing, and locally sourcing materials when possible, to further minimize emissions related to transporting the materials for construction 7. More recent advancements in materials are unlocking opportunities for carbon sequestering or capturing. For example, concrete blocks are becoming available that are made without the use of cement as a binding ingredient and have CO2 directly injected into the product, thereby permanently sequestering it 8,9.

There are multiple pathways to reducing operational carbon, including energy efficiency and electrification, as well as smart devices and equipment that enable connectivity between devices, buildings, and the electric grid to optimize energy consumption and minimize carbon emissions from the electric grid 2.

It is also important to consider how carbon emissions are accounted for throughout the lifetime of a building. Embodied carbon emissions are released due to the construction or renovation of a building, whereas operational carbon emissions are released continuously. For example, 38% of all carbon emissions over the first 10 years for a typical new construction building built in 2020 will be the embodied carbon released due to construction—the remaining 62% are carbon emissions from operating the building 10. However, when we compare typical new construction to high-performance construction, the story changes. Two-thirds of all carbon emissions over the first 10 years for a high-performance building will be the embodied carbon released due to construction 10. The primary reason for this is the significant reduction in operational carbon emissions from energy efficiency measures taken as part of the high-performance design. In either case, the key take away is that solutions for both embodied and operational carbon are needed.  

Additional research has studied the relationship between carbon emissions and socioeconomic status. Some data suggest that high socioeconomic status may disproportionately contribute to energy-driven carbon emissions related to consumption patterns, and at the same time substantial financial resources of high socioeconomic people can influence emissions and climate change policy and mitigation efforts—not always in positive ways 11. Related research has also shown that although high socioeconomic status may lead to higher consumption rates, these consumption patterns are often related to transport emissions, and lower socioeconomic status people are more likely to contribute to carbon emissions related to households 12. In either case, careful consideration needs to be taken in approaching carbon reduction solutions for specific stakeholder groups—especially vulnerable and historically excluded, underserved, and frontline communities.

The Challenge

This challenge asks student teams to develop an innovative solution that will reduce carbon emissions in buildings. Students can focus on any aspect related to carbon emissions, including but not limited to embodied carbon, carbon sequestration and capture, and operational carbon emissions. Teams should first develop a focused problem statement for a specific stakeholder group and then develop a technical solution or process.

Suggestions for student teams include (but are not limited to) the following: 

  • Create innovative design strategies and practices specifically aimed at reducing embodied carbon.
  • Develop new materials or manufacturing processes that reduce or eliminate carbon emissions, as well as potentially capture and store CO2.
  • Present solutions with advanced controls that optimize building operation and minimize carbon emissions.

Student submissions should: 

  • Describe the scope and context of the chosen problem.  
  • Identify affected stakeholders, making sure to consider socioeconomically vulnerable and historically excluded, underserved, and frontline communities (communities at the “front line” of pollution and climate change7). 
  • Develop a technical solution to the chosen problem for the targeted stakeholder group. The solution may also include policy solutions, supply chain and manufacturing processes, economic solutions, or other aspects critical to identified stakeholder barriers, but a technical solution must be proposed. 
  • Discuss appropriate and expected impacts and benefits of the proposed solution. This should include a cost/benefit analysis, a market adoption analysis, and should also consider non-economic costs and benefits, such as occupant health, productivity, well-being, and others.8 
  • Develop a plan that describes how the team envisions bringing its idea to scale in the market, including sales or distribution channels, outreach mechanisms, stakeholder engagement, and other relevant details.

Downloadable Challenge Description

Additional Challenge Resources

Submission Template

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions and Rules document for eligibility requirements and rules. Please note that you must begin your Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application before or at the same time as you submit your idea in order to compete in the JUMP competition.

Please submit the following as a single-spaced PDF document that is a written narrative of the team’s proposed solution. PowerPoints or submissions in presentation format do not meet the requirement. 

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
    • Form a team of 2‒4 students. These students represent the project team and will all consult on the problem.
    • The Project Team Background should include:
      • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
      • Team mission statement
      • A short biography for each team member; this should include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the Challenge.
      • Diversity statement (minimum 1 paragraph, 5‒7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in STEM, meaning that certain groups are underrepresented or have been historically excluded from STEM fields. These groups include, but are not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. If there are barriers that affect the racial, ethnic, and/or gender breakdown of your team, please elaborate. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. The diversity statement is your opportunity to describe your team’s diversity of background and thought, both generally and as applicable to your chosen Challenge.
    • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select 1 of the 3 Challenges to address.
    • Investigate the background of the Challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem, a part of the supply chain, or manufacturing of the technology product(s), as well as those who may have decision-making power and are able to provide solutions (technical or nontechnical solutions, such as policies). For example, you could include stakeholders who have previously experienced environmental pollution or a high energy burden. Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Justice and Environmental Justice
    • Write a 1- to 2-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and the stakeholder groups affected by or involved in the problem. The stakeholder groups can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing). The problem statement should clearly identify the injustices (energy or environmental) that the stakeholder group experiences. Students should consider social implications related to the identified injustices.
    • Develop and describe a novel solution that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. The solution must be technical and also include one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, and/or other.
    • Address the requirements for your selected Challenge as written in the Challenge description. Include graphs, figures, and photos. Discuss the feasibility of your solution and how it will impact your stakeholders, especially those who have experienced the injustices that you described in your problem statement.
    • Develop a technology-to-market plan. A technology-to-market plan describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to installation on real buildings, or integrated into the design of real buildings, and includes a cost/benefit analysis.
      • The cost/benefit analysis does not need to be exhaustive and should include comparing the solution to current or existing technologies or practices. Benefits, such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity, should be evaluated.
      • The plan should also discuss which key stakeholder(s) should be involved to commercialize the technology and then sell and install the technologies with your target market(s).
    • Perform a market adoption barrier The team should identify at least one key market adoption barrier for implementation and specifically address how the proposed solution will overcome that barrier.
      • Barriers should align with key stakeholder(s) identified by the student team.
    • Include references. References will not count toward the 5-page maximum.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Evaluation Criteria

Solution (40%)

  • Solution: Please rate the solution and its ability to address the problem statement. The solution must be a technical solution and include one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, or other. How well does the proposed solution address the problem and stakeholder needs?
  • Feasibility: Please rate the solution’s overall feasibility and potential, including its viability. For example, solutions that are not technically possible or that lack a technical feasibility discussion will receive lower scores. 
  • Novelty: Please rate the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry. 
  • Impact: Please rate the overall potential impact of the team’s solution. For example, can the solution be extended to communities, similar stakeholder groups, or a nationwide solution? 

Market Readiness (30%)

  • Market Characterization: Please rate the team’s understanding of the market and the stakeholder group(s) identified by the problem statement. 
  • Technology-to-Market: Please rate the team’s proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs, and the team’s cost/benefit analysis. 
  • Overcoming Adoption Barriers: Please rate the team’s identification of and plan for overcoming adoption barriers for proposed solution. This includes how the solution will create value, both economic and other, to drive industry adoption. 

Diversity and Justice (20%)

  • Diversity Statement and Project Team Background: Please rate how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in its diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—ensuring diversity of thought. See the diversity statement in the Challenge requirements. This also includes how well the teams connect their mission statement and biographies to their problem statement. 
  • Environmental and Energy Justice: Please rate how well the proposed solution addresses environmental and energy justice. 

Submission (10%)

  • Submission Requirements: Please rate how well the student team followed all submission requirements. See the submission paper requirements section of this rules document and at the bottom of each Challenge description. 

How to Create a Successful Submission

Citations

  1. World Green Building Council. 2022. “Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront.” https://www.worldgbc.org/embodied-carbon.
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2022. “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions.
  3. Leung, Jessica. 2018. “Decarbonizing U.S. Buildings.” Climate Innovation 2050. https://www.c2es.org/document/decarbonizing-u-s-buildings/
  4. The White House. 2021. “President Biden Sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/22/fact-sheet-president-biden-sets-2030-greenhouse-gas-pollution-reduction-target-aimed-at-creating-good-paying-union-jobs-and-securing-u-s-leadership-on-clean-energy-technologies/.
  5. O’Connor, Jennifer. “Survey on Actual Service Lives for North American Buildings.” Presented at Woodframe Housing Durability and Disaster Issues conference, Las Vegas, October 2004. https://cwc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/DurabilityService_Life_E.pdf.
  6. Vespa, Jonathan, Lauren Medina, and David M. Armstrong. 2020. Demographic Turning Points for the United States: Population Projections for 2020 to 2060. The United States Census. P25-1144. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2020/demo/p25-1144.html.
  7. Strain, Larry. “10 steps to reducing embodied carbon.” 2022. https://www.aia.org/articles/70446-ten-steps-to-reducing-embodied-carbon.
  8. CarbiCrete. 2022. https://carbicrete.com.  
  9. Echohome. 2021. “Carbon Negative Concrete Goes into Pioneering ‘Green’ CMU Blocks – Quebec Leads the Way!” https://www.ecohome.net/news/1514/carbon-negative-concrete-cmu-blocks-quebec-leads-the-way/.  
  10. Carbon Leadership Forum. 2022. “Introduction to Embodied Carbon.” https://carbonleadershipforum.org/toolkit-1-introduction/
  11. Nielsen, K.S., K.A. Nicholas, F. Creutzig, et al. 2021. “The Role of High-Socioeconomic-Status People in Locking In or Rapidly Reducing Energy-Driven Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” Nature Energy Volume 6: Pages 1011–1016. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-021-00900-y.  
  12. Büchs, Milena, Sylke V. Schnepf. 2013. “Who emits most? Associations Between Socio-Economic Factors and UK Households’ Home Energy, Transport, Indirect and Total CO2 Emissions.” Ecological Economics Volume 90: Page 114–123. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800913000980.

Solving Market Adoption for Emerging Efficiency Technologies

Engineer adjusts bank of dimmer lights.

                                                                   Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL

Note that this challenge was for the Fall 2021 competition. 

The objective of this challenge is to develop an innovative, holistic solution that will increase the accessibility, purchase, installation, and use of energy efficiency technologies in buildings (residential, commercial, new, or existing). This will lead to reductions in energy use and carbon emissions, and fewer inequalities in obtaining new technologies for identified stakeholder groups.

Background

Energy efficiency in the building industry is not new. The first Energy Policy and Conservation Act was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975,1 and the U.S. Department of Energy will soon celebrate its 45th birthday. So why don’t we see the latest and greatest building technologies everywhere?

For example, LED light bulbs have been on the market for more than a decade at increasingly lower costs, yet only 45% of high-income households and 14% of low-income households report having at least one LED bulb installed.2 Similarly, wireless Internet-of-Things sensors and devices are improving how we can interact with and control devices in our homes and our workplaces. Many of these systems require broadband internet, but only 57% of low-income households in the United States have broadband internet.3 In addition, there is an almost 10% disparity in access to broadband internet for rural communities compared with urban and suburban communities.3 An estimated 39% of people living in rural areas lack access to the basic-fixed broadband service4 needed for many of these technologies to function.

Heat pump water heaters (HPWH) are another example of a newer technology that can save a substantial portion of energy for domestic hot water building loads—particularly for residential and multifamily dwellings—while simultaneously providing a path toward electrification and grid-wide carbon reduction goals. However, an apartment building with multiple generations of families who may often be home will see an elevated hot water usage profile compared to an apartment building with single-family tenants who are mostly away during the day. HPWHs subjected to higher usage profiles will more often require the use of a backup electric coil, leading to less efficient operation and higher utility costs for a population with less income to spare. Adding to the complexity of the situation, tenants renting an apartment are often responsible for utility bills but do not typically own their water heaters nor have a say in the type of equipment purchased by the landlord or owners. This seemingly energy-efficient technology investment might actually increase the energy burden on certain individuals and communities. Climate considerations should also be taken into account when considering heat pump performance or the current cost difference between switching from natural gas or electricity.

The initial cost of a new technology is an important factor for deployment, and innovative solutions to reduce this cost are needed to help increase market adoption and impact. However, this approach may overlook subtleties specific to subsets of the population where reducing cost may not be enough to achieve market adoption potential. For example, there could be perception or lack of awareness barriers,5 or barriers specific to certain stakeholder groups that cannot be seen through a cost-only lens. Market transformation does not occur overnight, and sometimes strategic intervention is necessary to accelerate technology adoption—this is your challenge.

 

The Challenge

This challenge requires students to develop an innovative and holistic deployment solution that will increase market adoption of an emerging technology for building energy conservation and carbon reduction. Teams will first select an emerging technology and a specific stakeholder group with limited adoption of the technology. Teams must then perform market analysis research, identify adoption barriers through stakeholder engagement, and develop a holistic solution (technical, policy, and/or economic) to increase deployment of the technology. The solution must lead to higher market adoption rates and specifically address identified barriers for the chosen stakeholder group. A holistic deployment solution—including technical and non-technical aspects such as policy and economic solutions—is required.

Student submissions should:

  • Describe the scope and context of the deployment barriers for a specific technology and associated impacted stakeholder group in the United States, including background research on the emerging technology and market analysis to identify and define adoption barriers.
  • Identify affected stakeholders in socioeconomically vulnerable and historically excluded, underserved, and frontline communities (communities at the frontline of pollution and climate change6), as well as key stakeholders or partners needed to deploy the idea.
  • Develop a holistic solution for the targeted stakeholder group to increase market adoption of the chosen technology at a building-type scale or a community-level scale. The solution may include policy solutions, supply chain and manufacturing processes, economic solutions, or other aspects critical to identified stakeholder barriers, but a technical solution must be proposed.
  • Discuss appropriate and expected impacts and benefits of the proposed solution. This should include a cost/benefit analysis and should also consider non-economic costs and benefits, such as occupant health, productivity, well-being, and others.7
  • Develop a market transformation plan that describes how the team envisions bringing its idea to scale in the market, including sales or distribution channels, outreach mechanisms, stakeholder engagement, and other relevant details; this plan should also describe who the team would partner with to implement the idea and how the collective team would increase market adoption. Letters of support from potential partners are encouraged.

All solutions must include a cost/benefit analysis. Solutions should consider the following questions:

  • If costs are a key barrier for the identified stakeholder group, how will costs be reduced to facilitate adoption by these stakeholders?
  • How does the proposed solution change costs, compared with current best practices?
  • Are there new business models that could be used to sell the proposed solution?
  • What non-economic drivers might enable adoption at scale that in turn drive the costs down?

Cost estimates should focus on those processes, or methods, compared with current practices. Cost estimates need not be exhaustive but should be comprehensive enough to capture the barriers identified and how the solution addresses those cost barriers.

All solutions must include consideration for non-economic costs and benefits, especially those identified as critical through stakeholder outreach and engagement. Solutions should consider the following questions:

  • What are the key barriers other than cost for the identified stakeholder group?
  • How does the proposed solution address identified non-cost barriers leading to increased adoption of the selected technology?
  • What methodologies for quantifying these non-economic costs and benefits would lead to wide adoption rates of the technology?

Downloadable Challenge Description

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions for eligibility requirements. Please note that all team members must have completed the Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application or declined internship consideration when the idea is submitted.

Please submit the following as one PDF document.

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
    • Form a team of 2‒4 students. These students represent the project team and will all consult on the problem.
    • The Project Team Background should include:
      • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
      • Team mission statement
      • A short biography for each team member; this should include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the Challenge.
      • Diversity statement (minimum 1 paragraph, 5‒7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in STEM, meaning that certain groups are underrepresented or have been historically excluded from STEM fields. These groups include, but are not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. If there are barriers to entry present that affect the racial, ethnic, and/or gender breakdown of your team, please elaborate. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. The diversity statement is your opportunity to describe your team’s diversity of background and thought, both generally and as applicable to your chosen Challenge.
    • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select 1 of the 3 Challenges to address.
    • Investigate the background of the Challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem, a part of the supply chain, or manufacturing of the technology product(s), as well as those who may have decision-making power and are able to provide solutions (technical or nontechnical solutions, such as policies). For example, you could include stakeholders who have previously experienced environmental pollution or a high energy burden. Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Justice and Environmental Justice initiatives, as DOE plans to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of climate investment to disadvantaged communities.
    • Write a 1- to 2-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and the stakeholder groups affected by or involved in the problem. The stakeholder groups can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing). The problem statement should clearly identify the injustices (energy or environmental) that the stakeholder group experiences. Students should consider social implications related to the identified injustices.
    • Write a holistic solution that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. A holistic solution is one that includes a technical component as well as one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, and/or other. Address the requirements for your selected Challenge. Include graphs, figures, and photos. Discuss how your solution will impact your stakeholders, especially those who have experienced the injustices that you described in your problem statement.
    • Develop a technology-to-market plan or a market transformation plan, depending on the chosen Challenge.
      • A technology-to-market plan describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to installation on real buildings, or integrated into the design of real buildings, and includes a cost/benefit analysis. This does not need to be exhaustive and should include comparing the solution to current or existing technologies or practices. Benefits, such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity, should be evaluated. The plan should also identify at least one key stakeholder barrier for implementation (in addition to cost) and address how the proposed solution will overcome that barrier. The plan should also discuss what key stakeholder(s) should be involved to commercialize the technology and then sell and install the technologies with your target market(s).
      • A market transformation plan describes how the team envisions increasing the adoption and use of the already commercialized idea in the market, including sales or distribution channels, outreach mechanisms, and other relevant details. The plan should also describe who the team would partner with to implement the idea (e.g., utilities) and how the collective team would increase market adoption.
    • Include references. References will not count toward the 5-page maximum.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Please submit the following information to the corresponding submission prompts on jumpintostem.org. The abstract and image for Challenge winners and Challenge finalists will be published on the JUMP into STEM website.

  • Abstract (up to 250 words)
    • Please include an abstract of your project. The abstract may be displayed on the jumpintostem.org website.
  • Image (file size limit: 5 MB; filetype: .jpg)
    • Please submit an image that represents your project. This can be a photo or a figure from your paper. The image may be displayed on the jumpintostem.org website.

Evaluation Criteria

Solution (40%)

  • Holistic Solution: a technical solution, as well as one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, or other. How well does the proposed solution address the problem?
  • Feasibility: overall feasibility and potential, including viability.
  • Novelty: the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry.
  • Applicability to stakeholders: how well the solution addresses the problem statement and associated stakeholder community.

Market Readiness and Impact (30%)

  • Technology-to-Market Plan or Market Transformation Plan: depending on the Challenge, either a technology-to-market plan or a market transformation plan is required, including cost/benefit analysis and identified key barrier(s) for stakeholder implementation, along with how the proposed solution will overcome the barriers. In addition:
    • For technology-to-market plans: How feasible is the proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs?
    • For market transformation plan: How feasible is the proposed solution at providing market intervention and increasing market adoption?)
  • Market characterization and readiness for proposed idea: description and understanding of the market and stakeholder group, and how the solution will create value, both economic and other, to drive industry adoption.
  • Impact: the overall potential impact of the solution. For example, can the solution be extended to communities, similar stakeholder groups, or a nationwide solution?

Diversity and Justice (20%)

  • Diversity statement and project team background: how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in their diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—ensuring diversity of thought. (See the diversity statement section in the challenge requirements.) This also includes how well the teams connect their mission statement and biographies to their problem statement.
  • Environmental and Energy Justice: how well the proposed solution addresses environmental and energy justice.

Submission (10%)

  • Submission Requirements: how well the team follows all submission requirements. 

Citations

  1. Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy. 2013. The History of Energy Efficiency. Washington, DC: Alliance to Save Energy. https://www.ase.org/sites/ase.org/files/resources/Media%20browser/ee_commission_history_report_2-1-13.pdf.
  2. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2017. “American households use a variety of lightbulbs as CFL and LED adoption increases.” https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=31112.
  3. Pew Research Center. 2021. “Internet/Broadband Fact Sheet.” https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/#who-has-home-broadband?menuItem=89fe9877-d6d0-42c5-bca0-8e6034e300aa
  4. Levin, Blair and Mattey, Carol. 2017. “In infrastructure plan, a big opening for rural broadband.” Brookings Institution: The Avenue. February 13, 2017. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2017/02/13/in-infrastructure-plan-a-big-opening-for-rural-broadband/.
  5. Cort, K.A. 2013. Low-E Storm Windows: Market Assessment and Pathways to Market Transformation. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. https://www.pnnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-22565.pdf.
  6. Initiative for Energy Justice. https://iejusa.org
  7. Whole Building Design Guide. 2020. “Consider Non-Quantifiable Benefits.” https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/cost-effective/consider-non-monetary-benefits.

Resilience for All in the Wake of Disaster

Aerial view of San Diego.

“Urban Legos” by Karon Elliott Edleson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Note that this challenge was for the Fall 2021 competition. 

The objective of this challenge is to develop holistic solutions to improve the resilience of the built environment, making equity a central focus of the proposed solution by strengthening the ability of communities—especially those that are underserved, marginalized and vulnerable—to adapt, persist, and recover in the event of natural or manmade disruptive events.

Background

People across the globe are experiencing an increased frequency and severity of disruptive events,1 including record-setting heatwaves, winter storms, extreme rainfall, floods, drought, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, chemical and biological hazards, and fires. These events—natural or manmade— cause damage to natural and built environment and infrastructure, and threat to public health, safety and well-being. They result in interruptions or loss of essential services that adversely impact access to potable water, sanitation, food, energy, safe air, livable indoor conditions, communication, and transportation. The heatwave in the Pacific Northwest, the wildfires in California, the 2021 winter storms, and the COVID-19 pandemic are just a few of the recent examples.

Communities that are underserved, marginalized and vulnerable typically face a significantly larger challenge in the event of such stresses and often lack the capacity to recover. These communities include those that experience barriers to social, economic, political, and environmental resources due to ethnic and racial discrimination, low socioeconomic status, disadvantaged background, illness, or disability; communities located in rural areas or impoverished urban sectors; and populations at a higher risk for poor health. Globally, between 1996 and 2015, 68.3% of all the people who died due to natural hazards belonged to lower-middle and low-income groups.2,3

Resilience is the ability to adapt to, persist in the face of, and rapidly recover from a potentially disruptive event.4 Resilient design is the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to these stresses.5 Equitable resilience brings together the strategies for resilient design that account for the social distribution of those stresses and responses and aims to also strengthen the resilience of disadvantaged communities.6

Strategies to improve the resilience of buildings, communities, and infrastructure focus on robustness, resourcefulness, rapid recovery, and redundancy. Robustness is the ability to maintain critical operations and functions in the face of a crisis. This includes the building itself, the design of the infrastructure (office buildings, power generation, distribution structures, bridges, dams, levees), or system redundancy and substitution (transportation, power grid, communications networks).

Resourcefulness is the ability to skillfully prepare for, respond to, and manage a crisis or disruption as it unfolds. This includes identifying courses of action and business continuity planning; training; supply chain management; prioritizing actions to control and mitigate damage; and effectively communicating decisions. Rapid recovery is the ability to return to and/or reinstitute normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible after a disruption. Components of rapid recovery include carefully drafted contingency plans, competent emergency operations, and the means to get the right people and resources to the right places. Redundancy means that there are back-up resources to support the originals in case of failure.7

Strategies for improving resilience of buildings include all aspects of building structure, enclosure, energy systems, operations, and building use.8 Community-level strategies require a multipronged approach, using a combination of mandatory upgrades, incentive programs, funding mechanisms, and education/outreach programs to develop more resilient building stock. These may also include smaller or more incremental strategies to gradually improve resilience or institute larger-scale coordinated programs to respond to critical deficiencies. Depending on the hazards, these strategies may also include redefined functions of buildings and creating community facilities (resilience hubs) that can serve during emergencies and interruptions to services.8

Many technologies are emerging to improve the resilience of the U.S. building infrastructure and electricity grid. For example, smart grid technologies use communication and information technology to collect information on the behavior of customers and to automatically work to improve efficiency and reliability in distributing electricity.9 Microgrids10with distributed energy resources11 include small-scale units of power generation which operate locally and are connected to a larger power grid at the distribution level, thereby improving the quality and reliability of service.12 Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings have an optimized blend of energy efficiency, energy storage, renewable energy, and load flexibility technologies enabled through smart controls.13

The idea that resilience is a positive trait that contributes to sustainability is widely accepted. Yet some recent studies identify situations where promotion of resilience for some locations may come at the expense of others,14 or enhancement of resilience at one scale, such as the level of the community, may reduce resilience at another scale, such as the household or individual.15,16 Equity concerns often arise due to uneven patterns of resilience. Therefore, additional work is needed to identify ways that these research and implementation efforts penetrate to the underserved communities and do not reinforce existing inequities or create new ones.17

 

Slides

The Challenge

The first step to meeting the equitable resilience challenge is to understand the vulnerability that various communities face, and then address the vulnerability for equity and resilience cohesively. Students may consider strategies for achieving resilience at the building scale or community scale for new construction, existing buildings, or communities. A community could be a small neighborhood or a geographic region of any scale. Students may develop solutions guided by the Resilient Design Principles18 and utilize available resilient design tools.19,20

Students should develop a problem statement related to building or community resilience that includes a challenge for making resilience more equitable. Student submissions should:

  • Describe the scope and context of the problem based on a real problem(s) in the United States.
  • Identify affected communities, making sure to include underserved, marginalized and/or vulnerable communities.
  • Develop a holistic solution to address the problem at a building scale or a community scale. The solution should include technical aspect as well as non-technical aspects such as policy or economic solutions. At a building scale, solutions may focus on new building designs or existing building retrofits.
  • Discuss how issues of equity are incorporated into strategies to promote resilience.
  • Discuss appropriate and expected impacts and benefits of the proposed solution. These may include quantifiable and nonquantifiable benefits,21 such as health and safety of affected population, size of community affected, number of households relocated, avoided cost of losses, loss of businesses, loss of lives, etc.
  • Develop a plan that describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to implementation. For example, a technology-to-market plan for a commercially viable, market-ready product for real buildings and communities, and/or integration into the planning and design process.

Downloadable Challenge Description

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions for eligibility requirements. Please note that all team members must have completed the Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application or declined internship consideration when the idea is submitted.

Please submit the following as one PDF document.

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
    • Form a team of 2‒4 students. These students represent the project team and will all consult on the problem.
    • The Project Team Background should include:
      • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
      • Team mission statement
      • A short biography for each team member; this should include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the Challenge.
      • Diversity statement (minimum 1 paragraph, 5‒7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in STEM, meaning that certain groups are underrepresented or have been historically excluded from STEM fields. These groups include, but are not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. If there are barriers to entry present that affect the racial, ethnic, and/or gender breakdown of your team, please elaborate. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. The diversity statement is your opportunity to describe your team’s diversity of background and thought, both generally and as applicable to your chosen Challenge.
    • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select 1 of the 3 Challenges to address.
    • Investigate the background of the Challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem, a part of the supply chain, or manufacturing of the technology product(s), as well as those who may have decision-making power and are able to provide solutions (technical or nontechnical solutions, such as policies). For example, you could include stakeholders who have previously experienced environmental pollution or a high energy burden. Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Justice and Environmental Justice initiatives, as DOE plans to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of climate investment to disadvantaged communities.
    • Write a 1- to 2-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and the stakeholder groups affected by or involved in the problem. The stakeholder groups can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing). The problem statement should clearly identify the injustices (energy or environmental) that the stakeholder group experiences. Students should consider social implications related to the identified injustices.
    • Write a holistic solution that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. A holistic solution is one that includes a technical component as well as one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, and/or other. Address the requirements for your selected Challenge. Include graphs, figures, and photos. Discuss how your solution will impact your stakeholders, especially those who have experienced the injustices that you described in your problem statement.
    • Develop a technology-to-market plan or a market transformation plan, depending on the chosen Challenge.
      • A technology-to-market plan describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to installation on real buildings, or integrated into the design of real buildings, and includes a cost/benefit analysis. This does not need to be exhaustive and should include comparing the solution to current or existing technologies or practices. Benefits, such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity, should be evaluated. The plan should also identify at least one key stakeholder barrier for implementation (in addition to cost) and address how the proposed solution will overcome that barrier. The plan should also discuss what key stakeholder(s) should be involved to commercialize the technology and then sell and install the technologies with your target market(s).
      • A market transformation plan describes how the team envisions increasing the adoption and use of the already commercialized idea in the market, including sales or distribution channels, outreach mechanisms, and other relevant details. The plan should also describe who the team would partner with to implement the idea (e.g., utilities) and how the collective team would increase market adoption.
    • Include references. References will not count toward the 5-page maximum.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Please submit the following information to the corresponding submission prompts on jumpintostem.org. The abstract and image for Challenge winners and Challenge finalists will be published on the JUMP into STEM website.

  • Abstract (up to 250 words)
    • Please include an abstract of your project. The abstract may be displayed on the jumpintostem.org website.
  • Image (file size limit: 5 MB; filetype: .jpg)
    • Please submit an image that represents your project. This can be a photo or a figure from your paper. The image may be displayed on the jumpintostem.org website.

Evaluation Criteria

Solution (40%)

  • Holistic Solution: a technical solution, as well as one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, or other. How well does the proposed solution address the problem?
  • Feasibility: overall feasibility and potential, including viability.
  • Novelty: the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry.
  • Applicability to stakeholders: how well the solution addresses the problem statement and associated stakeholder community.

Market Readiness and Impact (30%)

  • Technology-to-Market Plan or Market Transformation Plan: depending on the Challenge, either a technology-to-market plan or a market transformation plan is required, including cost/benefit analysis and identified key barrier(s) for stakeholder implementation, along with how the proposed solution will overcome the barriers. In addition:
    • For technology-to-market plans: How feasible is the proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs?
    • For market transformation plan: How feasible is the proposed solution at providing market intervention and increasing market adoption?)
  • Market characterization and readiness for proposed idea: description and understanding of the market and stakeholder group, and how the solution will create value, both economic and other, to drive industry adoption.
  • Impact: the overall potential impact of the solution. For example, can the solution be extended to communities, similar stakeholder groups, or a nationwide solution?

Diversity and Justice (20%)

  • Diversity statement and project team background: how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in their diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—ensuring diversity of thought. (See the diversity statement section in the challenge requirements.) This also includes how well the teams connect their mission statement and biographies to their problem statement.
  • Environmental and Energy Justice: how well the proposed solution addresses environmental and energy justice.

Submission (10%)

  • Submission Requirements: how well the team follows all submission requirements. 

Citations

  1. Harvey, Chelsea. 2018. “Extreme Weather Will Occur More Frequently Worldwide.” Scientific American. February 15, 2018. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/extreme-weather-will-occur-more-frequently-worldwide/.
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, School of Architecture + Planning. 2021. “Equitable Resilience, 2018-2021.” https://lcau.mit.edu/equitableresilience.
  3. United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. 2016. “Poverty and Death: Disaster and Mortality, 1996-2015.” https://www.preventionweb.net/files/50589_creddisastermortalityallfinalpdf.pdf.
  4. National Infrastructure Advisory Council. 2009. Critical Infrastructure Resilience: Final Report and Recommendations by National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC).
  5. Resilient Design Institute. 2021. “What is Resilience?” https://www.resilientdesign.org/what-is-resilience/.
  6. Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism. 2019. “Equitable Resilience: A Necessary and Under-Investigated Aspect of Sustainable Urban Systems.” https://lcau.mit.edu/conference/equitable-resilience-necessary-and-under-investigated-aspect-sustainable-urban-systems.
  7. Whole Building Design Guide. 2018. “Building Resilience.” https://www.wbdg.org/resources/building-resiliency.
  8. Boston Green Ribbon Commission Climate Preparedness Working Group. 2013. Building Resilience in Boston: Best Practices for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience for Existing Buildings. https://www.greenribboncommission.org/archive/downloads/Building_Resilience_in_Boston_SML.pdf.
  9. US Department of Energy. 2021. “The Smart Grid: An Introduction.” https://www.energy.gov/oe/downloads/smart-grid-introduction-0.
  10. US Department of Energy. 2014. “How Microgrids Work.” https://www.energy.gov/articles/how-microgrids-work.
  11. US Department of Energy. 2021. “Distributed Energy Resources for Resilience.” https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/distributed-energy-resources-resilience.
  12. US Department of Energy. 2021. “Solar Integration: Distributed Energy Resources and Microgrids.” https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-integration-distributed-energy-resources-and-microgrids.
  13. Rocky Mountain Institute. 2021. “Grid-Interactive Energy-Efficient Buildings (GEBS).” https://rmi.org/our-work/buildings/pathways-to-zero/grid-integrated-energy-efficient-buildings/.
  14. Pike A, Dawley S, and Tomaney, J. 2010. “Resilience adaptation and adaptability.Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 2010, 3:59-70.
  15. Adger, W, Arnell, N, and Tompkins, E. 2005. “Successful adaptation to climate change across scales.Global Environmental Change 15:77-86.
  16. Sapountzaki, K. 2007. “Social resilience to environmental risks: a mechanism of vulnerability transfer?Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal 18:274-297.
  17. Liechenko, R. 2011. “Climate change and urban resilience.Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 3:164–168.
  18. The Resilient Design Institute. 2021. “The Resilient Design Principles.” https://www.resilientdesign.org/the-resilient-design-principles/.
  19. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “US Climate Resilience Toolkit.” https://toolkit.climate.gov/.
  20. US Green Building Council. 2018. “Resilient by Design: USGBC Offers Sustainability Tools for Enhanced Resilience.” https://www.usgbc.org/sites/default/files/2018-USGBC-Resilience-Brief-041118.pdf.
  21. Whole Building Design Guide. 2020. “Consider Non-Quantifiable Benefits.” https://www.wbdg.org/design-objectives/cost-effective/consider-non-monetary-benefits.

Equal Access to Healthy Indoor Air

Children play in a school gym.

                                           Photo by RTA Architects, David Lauer Photography.

Note that this challenge was for the Fall 2021 competition. 

The objective of this challenge is to develop a holistic solution to address indoor air quality (IAQ) inequities in the United States. This topic relates to both the technical aspects of IAQ as well as other areas including IAQ-related policy, epidemiology, environmental justice, community economic impact, commercialization, codes and standards, and appropriate metrics development.

Background

Poor IAQ in buildings can result from the infiltration of outdoor air pollutants as well as from the generation of air contaminants from indoor sources. Outdoor air pollution can be generated by sources such as power plants and industries, traffic emissions from major highways or roads, and wildfires. Indoor sources include combustion equipment and appliances, installed or stored products and materials (e.g., off-gassing of volatile organic compounds from furniture, cleaning products, and building materials), mold, pests, pets, indoor smoking, radon, legacy building materials like lead and asbestos, etc. The degradation of IAQ is exacerbated by poor ventilation.

Most Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, where air pollutants can be two to five times more concentrated than outdoors.1 Consequently, prolonged exposure to poor IAQ can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular health problems including respiratory infections, allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, sick building syndrome, and lung cancer.2 Acute exposure (over hours) to air pollutants can cause irritation to the nose, throat, and eyes and aggravate asthma, lung disease, bronchitis, and respiratory disease in susceptible individuals.3 In addition, poor IAQ may also lead to increased school and work absenteeism and loss of work productivity due to reduced cognitive performance.4 In extreme cases, serious and life-threatening situations can arise due to poor IAQ. More than 100 people die each year in the U.S. from unintentional exposure to carbon monoxide gas from portable generators and other fuel burning appliances and products.5 Throughout the United States, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths every year.6

Prior research has shown that households with lower socioeconomic status encounter greater concentrations of indoor air pollutants based on multiple factors such as age of the house, area of peeling paint, water leaks, neighborhood street noise and traffic density, proximity to factories, presence of rodents, mean floor area, occupant density, presence of cracks in floors and walls, etc.7 A study from Peters et al.8 showed that holes in the wall or ceiling that are found more often in the houses occupied by lower socioeconomic status households were associated with a 6- to 11-fold increase in kitchen cockroach allergen concentrations. The official poverty rate in the United States in 2019 was 10.5% of the total population—approximately 34 million people.9 A substantial body of literature demonstrates that poor housing conditions, which are often directly associated with socioeconomic status of the household, can contribute to increased infectious disease transmission, injuries, asthma symptoms, lead poisoning, and mental health problems—both directly (e.g., because of environmental hazards) and indirectly (e.g., by contributing to psychosocial stress that exacerbates illness).10

Besides socioeconomic status, vulnerability to poor IAQ can depend on several other factors including age of the occupants, density of housing, home ownership status (renter versus homeowner), race, ethnicity, occupation, and infrastructure dependence.11 The interplay of these multiple factors leading to IAQ inequity will collectively affect the solutions used to address the problem.

Improvements in IAQ could dramatically improve overall human health; however, to be implemented widely, solutions should not add significantly to the building’s energy use or to homeowner or renter energy bills. IAQ improvement solutions such as increased ventilation rates in buildings can even reduce the incidence and transmission of respiratory diseases including COVID-19.12 Due to the multi-faceted impacts of IAQ improvement solutions, technological solutions alone cannot be realized impactfully without taking policy-related, economic, and other nontechnological considerations into account.

Examples of technological solutions for IAQ improvement include the use of portable air purifiers, upgrades to heating, ventilating, and air conditioning filters, kitchen range hoods that vent exhaust outside, heat recovery ventilators, and motion-activated mechanical exhaust fans. However, these solutions may be unaffordable to the economically disadvantaged population. Recent technological developments in indoor environmental sensing, modeling, and control capabilities can be leveraged to potentially optimize for IAQ and energy efficiency and improve the affordability and access of these solutions to a wider population. More innovation is needed to increase the affordability and widen the access of smart or sensor-driven and other recently developed IAQ solutions.

On the other hand, policies provide a basis for generating solutions at a nontechnological level. Examples of a policy-level approach include the health and safety inspections and necessary corrective actions built into the operating procedures of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, and several other non-federal programs from the states, local governments, and non-profit organizations. Pathways are also needed to enhance the delivery of effective and impactful solutions to IAQ inequities to end users in a cost-effective and practical manner.

 

The Challenge

The JUMP into STEM competition asks teams to investigate holistic solutions and explore impactful factors (such as science, policies, awareness, information technology, codes and standards, and economics) behind inequities in IAQ. Teams must develop a problem statement to address IAQ inequities for a specific stakeholder group and present a holistic response that includes a technical solution or process as well as other components such as policy, awareness, information technology, and economic solutions.

Suggestions for student teams to work on include but are not limited to the following:

  • Characterizing indoor air quality to provide better guidance for policy development. (Examples include developing novel metrics related to IAQ based on established scientific findings and the relationship between IAQ and health. Analogous to the outdoor air quality index, such quantitative metrics could then highlight the status quo as well as guide intervention strategies or occupant behaviors for mitigating the harmful effects of indoor air contaminants.)
  • Managing IAQ in buildings through targeted sensing and ventilation strategies.
  • Focusing on a specific pollutant source, building type, or geographical location.
  • Generating or analyzing relevant data through mobile applications, machine learning, and databases that are helpful in making informed decisions at either the building or community level.
  • Developing innovative financing mechanisms to upgrade existing buildings with an improved IAQ solution, etc.
  • Developing new mechanisms of collaboration between existing programs and agencies that can co-address IAQ issues in tandem with other issues such as energy efficiency. For example, OneTouch program model that connects WAP, Lead hazard abatement, and HUD rehab funded programs through lead sharing in Vermont.13 WAP, Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH), and Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® (HPwES) are some of the existing federal programs funded by DOE that include IAQ as well as energy efficiency elements with respect to buildings.

Students should develop a problem statement and propose a solution related to building or community-scale IAQ issues. Student submissions should:

  • Describe the scope and context of the problem based on a real building and/or stakeholder group in the United States
  • Identify affected communities, making sure to include socioeconomically vulnerable communities when compared against groups with high socioeconomic status.
  • Develop a holistic solution including technical, policy-related, or economic aspects to address the IAQ problems at the building or community scale. At a building scale, solutions may focus on new building designs or existing building retrofits. At a community scale, the solutions may focus on community behavioral patterns, local infrastructures, community awareness, etc.
  • Discuss appropriate and expected impacts and benefits of the proposed solution. This should include a cost/benefit analysis of the proposed solution and should also include noneconomic impacts whenever possible. The noneconomic impacts could include items such as environmental impact, noise level, security challenges, logistical challenges, health risks, safety hazards, workmanship quality, and speed of implementation.
  • Develop a plan that describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to a final implementation that is useful to the end user. Examples include a detailed plan to convert the idea to a commercially viable, market-ready product for existing buildings and/or communities; or a roadmap to integrate the idea into a new construction or retrofit project.

Downloadable Challenge Description

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions for eligibility requirements. Please note that all team members must have completed the Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application or declined internship consideration when the idea is submitted.

Please submit the following as one PDF document.

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
    • Form a team of 2‒4 students. These students represent the project team and will all consult on the problem.
    • The Project Team Background should include:
      • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
      • Team mission statement
      • A short biography for each team member; this should include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the Challenge.
      • Diversity statement (minimum 1 paragraph, 5‒7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in STEM, meaning that certain groups are underrepresented or have been historically excluded from STEM fields. These groups include, but are not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. If there are barriers to entry present that affect the racial, ethnic, and/or gender breakdown of your team, please elaborate. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. The diversity statement is your opportunity to describe your team’s diversity of background and thought, both generally and as applicable to your chosen Challenge.
    • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select 1 of the 3 Challenges to address.
    • Investigate the background of the Challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem, a part of the supply chain, or manufacturing of the technology product(s), as well as those who may have decision-making power and are able to provide solutions (technical or nontechnical solutions, such as policies). For example, you could include stakeholders who have previously experienced environmental pollution or a high energy burden. Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Justice and Environmental Justice initiatives, as DOE plans to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of climate investment to disadvantaged communities.
    • Write a 1- to 2-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and the stakeholder groups affected by or involved in the problem. The stakeholder groups can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing). The problem statement should clearly identify the injustices (energy or environmental) that the stakeholder group experiences. Students should consider social implications related to the identified injustices.
    • Write a holistic solution that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. A holistic solution is one that includes a technical component as well as one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, and/or other. Address the requirements for your selected Challenge. Include graphs, figures, and photos. Discuss how your solution will impact your stakeholders, especially those who have experienced the injustices that you described in your problem statement.
    • Develop a technology-to-market plan or a market transformation plan, depending on the chosen Challenge.
      • A technology-to-market plan describes how the team envisions bringing its idea from concept to installation on real buildings, or integrated into the design of real buildings, and includes a cost/benefit analysis. This does not need to be exhaustive and should include comparing the solution to current or existing technologies or practices. Benefits, such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity, should be evaluated. The plan should also identify at least one key stakeholder barrier for implementation (in addition to cost) and address how the proposed solution will overcome that barrier. The plan should also discuss what key stakeholder(s) should be involved to commercialize the technology and then sell and install the technologies with your target market(s).
      • A market transformation plan describes how the team envisions increasing the adoption and use of the already commercialized idea in the market, including sales or distribution channels, outreach mechanisms, and other relevant details. The plan should also describe who the team would partner with to implement the idea (e.g., utilities) and how the collective team would increase market adoption.
    • Include references. References will not count toward the 5-page maximum.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Please submit the following information to the corresponding submission prompts on jumpintostem.org. The abstract and image for Challenge winners and Challenge finalists will be published on the JUMP into STEM website.

  • Abstract (up to 250 words)
    • Please include an abstract of your project. The abstract may be displayed on the jumpintostem.org website.
  • Image (file size limit: 5 MB; filetype: .jpg)
    • Please submit an image that represents your project. This can be a photo or a figure from your paper. The image may be displayed on the jumpintostem.org website.

Evaluation Criteria

Solution (40%)

  • Holistic Solution: a technical solution, as well as one or more of the following components, as appropriate: economic, policy, commercialization, codes and standards, or other. How well does the proposed solution address the problem?
  • Feasibility: overall feasibility and potential, including viability.
  • Novelty: the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry.
  • Applicability to stakeholders: how well the solution addresses the problem statement and associated stakeholder community.

Market Readiness and Impact (30%)

  • Technology-to-Market Plan or Market Transformation Plan: depending on the Challenge, either a technology-to-market plan or a market transformation plan is required, including cost/benefit analysis and identified key barrier(s) for stakeholder implementation, along with how the proposed solution will overcome the barriers. In addition:
    • For technology-to-market plans: How feasible is the proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs?
    • For market transformation plan: How feasible is the proposed solution at providing market intervention and increasing market adoption?)
  • Market characterization and readiness for proposed idea: description and understanding of the market and stakeholder group, and how the solution will create value, both economic and other, to drive industry adoption.
  • Impact: the overall potential impact of the solution. For example, can the solution be extended to communities, similar stakeholder groups, or a nationwide solution?

Diversity and Justice (20%)

  • Diversity statement and project team background: how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in their diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—ensuring diversity of thought. (See the diversity statement section in the challenge requirements.) This also includes how well the teams connect their mission statement and biographies to their problem statement.
  • Environmental and Energy Justice: how well the proposed solution addresses environmental and energy justice.

Submission (10%)

  • Submission Requirements: how well the team follows all submission requirements. 

Citations

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1987. “The total exposure assessment methodology (TEAM) study: Summary and analysis.” EPA/600/6-87/002a. Washington, DC.
  2. Sundell, J. 2004. “On the history of indoor air quality and health.” Indoor Air, 14(s 7), pp.51-58. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2004.00273.x
  3. Manisalidis, I., Stavropoulou, E., Stavropoulos, A. and Bezirtzoglou, E., 2020. Environmental and health impacts of air pollution: a review. Frontiers in public health, 8, p.14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2020.00014
  4. Zhang, X., Wargocki, P., Lian, Z. and Thyregod, C., 2017. “Effects of exposure to carbon dioxide and bioeffluents on perceived air quality, self‐assessed acute health symptoms, and cognitive performance.” Indoor Air, 27(1), pp.47-64. https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12284
  5. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Carbon Monoxide Safety Information for Congressional Offices – Suggested Insert for Constituent Newsletters and E-mails. Available at https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/blk_media_Carbon_Monoxide_Safety_Information_For_Congressional_Offices.pdf (Accessed 8/3/2021).
  6. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Health Risk of Radon”. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon#head (Accessed 8/3/2021).
  7. Adamkiewicz et al. 2011. “Moving Environmental Justice Indoors: Understanding Structural Influences on Residential Exposure Patterns in Low-Income Communities.” American Journal of Public Health, 101(Suppl 1): S238–S245. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300119.
  8. Peters, J.L., Levy, J.I., Rogers, C.A., Burge, H.A. and Spengler, J.D., 2007. Determinants of allergen concentrations in apartments of asthmatic children living in public housing. Journal of Urban Health, 84(2), pp.185-197. Available at: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11524-006-9146-2.pdf (Accessed 8/3/2021)
  9. Semega, J.L., Kollar, M.A., Shrider, E.A., and Creamer, J.F. 2019. “Income and poverty in the United States: 2019.” U.S. Census, Current Population Reports, pp.12-20. Available at https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-270.html (Accessed 7/1/2021).
  10. Saegert, S.C., Klitzman, S., Freudenberg, N., Cooperman-Mroczek, J. and Nassar, S. 2003. Healthy housing: a structured review of published evaluations of US interventions to improve health by modifying housing in the United States, 1990–2001. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), pp.1471-1477. Available at https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.93.9.1471.
  11. Cutter, S.L., Boruff, B.J. and Shirley, W.L. 2003. Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Social Science Quarterly, 84(2), pp.242-261. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1540-6237.8402002 (Accessed 7/22/2021).
  12. Morawska, L., Tang, J.W., Bahnfleth, W., Bluyssen, P.M., Boerstra, A., Buonanno, G., Cao, J., Dancer, S., Floto, A., Franchimon, F. and Haworth, C. 2020. How can airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors be minimised? Environment International, 142, p.105832. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020317876.
  13. OneTouch Housing website, Vermont: https://onetouchhousing.com/

Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB)

                                                         Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL 45218

Note that this challenge was for the Fall 2020 competition. 

The objective of this challenge is to develop conceptual designs that support BTO’s overall GEB strategy in the areas of 1) intelligent algorithms that optimize the operation of building’s active and passive systems to maximize energy efficiency, and 2) whole-building-level interoperable and low cost automation systems that enable communication with building equipment and appliance to optimize operation to provide grid services.

Background

Buildings are the nation’s primary users of electricity with 75% of all U.S. electricity is consumed within buildings.1 Perhaps more importantly, building energy use drives a comparable share of peak power demand. The electricity demand from buildings result from a variety of electrical loads that are operated to serve the needs of occupants. These loads are heating, cooling, water heating, appliances, lighting, and miscellaneous electric loads. The electric grid is traditionally “load following,” wherein the generation is controlled, often times centrally, to increase or decrease based on the demand. However, with proper coordination and controls, building loads can be intelligently managed to consume electricity at specific times and at different levels, while still meeting occupant productivity and comfort requirements. This increased demand flexibility can benefit the grid by balancing supply and demand while providing value to owners through reduced utility bills and increased resilience, among other benefits. The demand flexibility can also enable higher penetration of renewable generation sources. 

Demand response (DR) programs and Demand-side management programs currently offer an opportunity for consumers to play a role in the operation of the electric grid by reducing or shifting their electricity usage during peak periods in response to time-based rates or other forms of incentives. Existing programs are limited in scope both in number of buildings’ loads engaged and also amount of demand flexibility engaged in a given utility. A significant opportunity exists in engaging this demand flexibility to provide grid services such as load shifting, load shedding, reduction in peak demand, and integration of renewables. Additionally, onsite distributed energy resources (DERs)—such as rooftop photo voltaic (PV), electric vehicle charging, and batteries —can be co-optimized with building electrical loads through demand-side management.  Electric grid needs vary significantly by location, time of day, day of week, and season; aligning building load shapes with renewable generation profiles is critical to maximizing the benefit of building load flexibility and higher utilization of renewables. Accordingly, a building may need to manage its electricity load in different ways during these times by reducing load through year-round energy efficiency, shifting load to different times of the day, and/or pre-charging/storing for later use. These methods allow buildings to provide demand flexibility and are a significant focus area of US Department of Energy (DOE).2 Additionally, passive technologies (e.g., envelopes, windows, daylighting) increase the efficacy of these strategies by lowering energy intensity.

The ability to take an integrated approach to demand-side management and demand flexibility requires smart technologies, including advanced sensors, controls, models, and data analytics that can meet occupant requirements and respond to changes in the grid, building usage, and weather conditions. Today, behind-the-meter DERs—including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, electric vehicles, and storage—are typically valued, scheduled, implemented, and managed separately. The DOE Building Technologies Office’s (BTO) grid-interactive energy efficient buildings (GEB) vision involves the integration and continuous optimization of these resources for the benefit of the buildings’ owners, occupants, and the grid. BTO recognizes that this is a long-term vision and that there is continuum—from manual operation of buildings to fully automated energy management platforms—that allows for continuously improving integration and optimization. 

GEBs are beneficial for both end-users and the grid. Operating an electricity grid is tantamount to balancing supply and demand for different timescales under the constraints of limited generation resources and transmission and distribution capacity. Demand must be met through matching services provided by supply-side entities: integrated utilities, grid operators, generators, and/or distributed generation resources. Demand-side entities such as buildings and electric vehicles may also contribute to balancing supply and demand. In this regard, demand-side contributions can be just as viable as supply-side counterparts. Building owners or occupants that use demand-side management strategies may do so for various motivations, including compensation through lower utility bills, lower rates, or negotiated payments. Additionally, building operating costs may be reduced by avoiding utility demand charges or time-of-use peaks, which may or may not align with the real-time grid needs. Furthermore, owners and occupants may be motivated by environmental or other nonfinancial considerations. These strategies also have the potential to provide grid services, some of which provide benefits to the grid by avoiding or deferring transmission and distribution upgrades and associated capital expenditures, which can prevent utility customer rate increases. Both the utility system and society can realize numerous benefits from using demand-side management strategies such as increased system reliability and resilience, increased DER integration, increased owner/occupant satisfaction, flexibility, choice, and so on.

The Challenge

The JUMP into STEM competition is looking for conceptual designs that support BTO’s overall GEB strategy in the areas of 1) intelligent algorithms that optimize the operation of building’s active and passive systems to maximize energy efficiency, and 2) whole-building-level interoperable and low-cost automation systems that enable communication with building equipment and appliances to optimize operation to provide grid services. 

Teams can explore solutions appropriate to any and all building uses and building types, including residential buildings, commercial buildings, and campuses and may choose to, but not limited to, work on some of the following research items and strategies:

  • Interoperability. Innovative approaches to establish two-way connectivity and communications with the building equipment and appliances as well as the grid at low installation and commissioning costs.
  • Control Algorithm Development. Intelligent algorithms for optimal scheduling of devices that can maintain user comfort while minimizing energy cost. They may also include automated uncertainty management and fault diagnosis capabilities for low operation and maintenance costs. Algorithms could use data-driven and machine learning approaches. 
  • Building Load Shaping to Match Renewable Generation. Control and coordination concepts that enable innovative load shapes to maximize utilization of renewable generation for optimizing occupant energy usage and changing conditions over multiple timescales
  • Ensuring Occupant Comfort. User-friendly methods to obtain feedback on comfort from occupants while the building is providing grid services

Each team’s solution should include:

  • Description of the proposed solution.  What problem or need does it address? How does the solution address that problem?
  • Details about how the proposed solution will be integrated with and improve upon the existing approach of the building
  • How the proposed solution will benefit both end-users and the grid (e.g., quantified potential energy and nonenergy benefits realized through increased automation and user interaction)
  • A technology-to-market plan for how to scale-up this solution to make an impact on the building industry. The GEB ecosystem includes many different companies and organizations. Radical change does not come easily, so the technology-to-market plan should also address how to scale-up this solution such that an impact on the building industry and the grid can be made. 

Downloadable Challenge Description

Additional Challenge Resources

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions for eligibility requirements. Please note that you must begin your Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application before or at the same time as you submit your idea in order to compete in the JUMP competition.

Please submit the following as one PDF document.

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
    • Form a team of 2 to 4 students. These students represent the project team, and will all consult on the problem.
    • The Project Team Background should include:
      • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
      • Team mission statement
      • A short biography for each team member. Include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the challenge.
      • Diversity Statement (one paragraph 5-7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in the industry, meaning that it is underrepresented by certain groups—including, but not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. Please describe how your team is contributing to diversity in building science
    • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select one of the three challenges to address
    • Investigate the background of the challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem as well as those who may have decision-making power and provide solutions (technical or nontechnical, such as policies). Include any market stakeholders, such as manufacturers.
    • Write a one- to two-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and a stakeholder group affected by the problem. The stakeholder group can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing).
    • Write a technical solution or process that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. Address the requirements for your selected challenge. Include graphs, figures, and photos.
    • Develop a one- to two-paragraph technology-to-market plan that describes how the team envisions bringing their idea from paper concept to being installed on real buildings or integrated into the design of real buildings. Include cost and benefit analyses in the technology-to-market plan. This does not need to be exhaustive and should focus on comparing the solution to current or existing practices. Benefits such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity should be evaluated.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Evaluation Criteria

Technical (40%)

  • Technical solution or process: how well the proposed technology addresses the problem.
  • Technical feasibility: the solution’s technical feasibility/potential, including the viability of the proposed technology. For example, solutions that are not technically possible or that lack a technical feasibility discussion will receive lower scores.
  • Technology-to-market plan: the proposed technology-to-market plan, including the team’s cost/benefit analysis of the solution. How technically feasible is the proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs? Costs and benefits can include both monetary and non-monetary evaluations.
  • Technical response: how well the team’s written submission responds to the technical requests of the challenge.

Innovation (30%)

  • Market characterization and readiness for proposed idea: team’s description and understanding of the market and how the solution will create economic value to drive industry adoption.
  • Replicability and scalability: team’s description on how they will produce the product cost-effectively and scale the idea beyond original prototypes.
  • Novelty: the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry.

Diversity and Applicability (30%)

  • Diversity statement: how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in the diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—diversity of thought.
  • Stakeholder engagement: how well the team understands their stakeholder community and creates a problem statement around this community’s challenges.
  • Applicability to stakeholders: how well the solution addresses the problem statement and associated stakeholder community.

How to Create a Successful Submission

Slides

Citations

  1. Annual Energy Outlook 2019. “Reference Case Projections Tables”
  2. Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings Technical Report Series: Overview of research challenges and gaps

Building Energy Audits for Residential or Commercial Buildings

                  Photo by Piljae Im, ORNL

Note that this challenge was for the Fall 2020 competition.

The objective of this challenge is to develop technical solutions to expedite energy audits or develop a simplified, yet effective, energy audit methodology, by finding ways to reduce time and cost compared to current audit practices.  In addition to proposing solutions, this challenge also asks teams to demonstrate the proposed energy audit solution on an existing building.

Background

Buildings, whether long-standing or recently constructed, have potential for energy improvements. Engineers uncover the energy improvement potential for these buildings through thorough inspection, survey of systems and review of past energy usage; a practice commonly referred to as an energy audit.   

Energy audits are used in both the residential and the commercial building sectors. An energy audit is a process and inspection survey to understand the energy use of the building and to identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency while maintaining or improving occupants’ comfort. In addition to this, energy audits can be used for energy efficient building certification (e.g. Home Energy Rating System Program [HERS], U.S. Green Building Council [USGBC] Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED]). The energy audit can range from a simple walk-through of the building to a detailed audit with onsite measurements, tests, and analysis of many, if not all, building systems. ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers) provides industry with three standardized levels of energy audits where thorough on-site investigation is required as audit complexity increases.1

Simple energy audits (ASHRAE Level 1) include a review of utility bills, interviews with building staff, and a walk-through of the building. The purpose of this audit is to identify energy inefficiency and provide recommendations to building owners regarding operational adjustments or system upgrades with cost-effective energy efficiency measures (EEMs). For example, inefficient lightbulbs can be replaced with energy-efficient lightbulbs, such as LEDs. Simply replacing old filters of heating and cooling equipment can save energy by increasing filtration effectiveness and maintaining superior indoor air quality.2 These recommendations are easily identified by a building walk-through and easily implemented by building owners or facility managers where immediate energy savings can be anticipated. Major problem areas can be uncovered by simple energy audits, but level 1 energy audits are often not sufficient for implementing more significant measures and in that case, more detailed energy audits are recommended. Also, the lack of granularity of utility bills reduces the potential for diagnostics and other data processing techniques. In addition, many buildings today are equipped with a vast array of sensors that could provide more meaningful analyses and insight into a building’s operation. Wireless sensors and data acquisition also offers new potential for improving our ability to quickly and efficiently understand energy performance of an existing building.  More detailed energy audits (ASHRAE Level 2 and Level 3) provide a comprehensive understanding of the energy usage of building and enables advanced energy efficiency measures and future investment planning. By examining the condition of building envelope and HVAC systems, and operations and maintenance procedures, a baseline for energy usage can be developed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of pre-selected EEMs.3 For example, a blower door test4 or tracer gas test5 can be performed to identify air leakage or determine the air tightness of the building. Insulation level of the building can be identified based on as-built drawing, while thermal bridging or insufficient insulation can be identified using an IR camera6 together with a blower door test. Remote building energy audit services using new technologies such as advanced data mining techniques or machine learning are under active development.7,8 These potential EEMs, which are identified through detailed energy audits, can be evaluated and prioritized using whole-building energy simulation tools (e.g., EnergyPlus, OpenStudio). 

Detailed audits are more expensive and time consuming, and they require more detailed field data but can be necessary to plan an appropriate path forward. Because Level 2 and 3 audits are expensive, they are not performed often, especially for residential buildings, and so significant energy savings are left unrealized. 

The Challenge

The JUMP into STEM competition is looking for technical solutions to expedite the audit process or develop a simplified but more effective audit method, by finding ways to reduce time and cost.

Possible solutions could be related to any required tasks in any of the three levels of energy audit (e.g. energy bill analysis, review mechanical and electrical system, building air tightness testing) and many aspects of building (e.g., building envelope, HVAC system, lighting system) to improve the current system for energy efficiency and occupants’ comfort. In addition to proposing solutions, this challenge also asks the teams to test their proposed solution by conducting the energy audit at a local building. Engaging with a local building owner or homeowner can be a great way to identify improvements in the solution as well as identify EEMs for the owner or homeowner.

Solutions may address either residential or commercial buildings and should include the following:

  • The proposed technical solution and how the solution will benefit or improve the audit process
  • Site assessment including a virtual visit, virtual interviews of building staff if necessary (e.g., homeowner, facility managers, operations and management staff)
  • Energy usage analysis (e.g., collect and analyze at least one year of utility data)
  • The expected impact of the energy audit; examples of impact include energy saving potential using a whole building energy simulation tool (e.g., EnergyPlus, OpenStudio) or other relevant methods to capture the scientific effects of the propose method, economic benefit, and indoor environment comfort
  • Feedback on energy audit outcomes (e.g., a list of recommended EEMs, cost-benefit analysis) from the homeowner, local building staff, etc.)
  • A technology-to-market plan for how to scale up this solution to make an impact on the building industry

Downloadable Challenge Description

Additional Challenge Resources

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions for eligibility requirements. Please note that you must begin your Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application before or at the same time as you submit your idea in order to compete in the JUMP competition.

Please submit the following as one PDF document.

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
      • Form a team of 2 to 4 students. These students represent the project team, and will all consult on the problem.
      • The Project Team Background should include:
        • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
        • Team mission statement
        • A short biography for each team member. Include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the challenge.
        • Diversity Statement (one paragraph 5-7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in the industry, meaning that it is underrepresented by certain groups—including, but not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. Please describe how your team is contributing to diversity in building science
      • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select one of the three challenges to address
    • Investigate the background of the challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem as well as those who may have decision-making power and provide solutions (technical or nontechnical, such as policies). Include any market stakeholders, such as manufacturers.
    • Write a one- to two-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and a stakeholder group affected by the problem. The stakeholder group can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing).
    • Write a technical solution or process that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. Address the requirements for your selected challenge. Include graphs, figures, and photos.
    • Develop a one- to two-paragraph technology-to-market plan that describes how the team envisions bringing their idea from paper concept to being installed on real buildings or integrated into the design of real buildings. Include cost and benefit analyses in the technology-to-market plan. This does not need to be exhaustive and should focus on comparing the solution to current or existing practices. Benefits such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity should be evaluated.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Evaluation Criteria

Technical (40%)

  • Technical solution or process: how well the proposed technology addresses the problem.
  • Technical feasibility: the solution’s technical feasibility/potential, including the viability of the proposed technology. For example, solutions that are not technically possible or that lack a technical feasibility discussion will receive lower scores.
  • Technology-to-market plan: the proposed technology-to-market plan, including the team’s cost/benefit analysis of the solution. How technically feasible is the proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs? Costs and benefits can include both monetary and non-monetary evaluations.
  • Technical response: how well the team’s written submission responds to the technical requests of the challenge.

Innovation (30%)

  • Market characterization and readiness for proposed idea: team’s description and understanding of the market and how the solution will create economic value to drive industry adoption.
  • Replicability and scalability: team’s description on how they will produce the product cost-effectively and scale the idea beyond original prototypes.
  • Novelty: the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry.

Diversity and Applicability (30%)

  • Diversity statement: how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in the diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—diversity of thought.
  • Stakeholder engagement: how well the team understands their stakeholder community and creates a problem statement around this community’s challenges.
  • Applicability to stakeholders: how well the solution addresses the problem statement and associated stakeholder community.

How to Create a Successful Submission

Slides

Citations

  1. ASHRAE energy audit level 1 2 and 3
  2. Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits
  3. A guide to energy audit
  4. Blower door test
  5. Tracer gas test 
  6. Thermographic inspection 
  7. Remote building energy audit 
  8. Remote building assessment 

Advanced Building Construction Methods

                                                               Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL 41378

Note that this challenge was for the Fall 2020 competition. 

The objective of this challenge is to develop an innovative solution incorporating substantial changes in building materials or construction methods, leading to benefits such as increased productivity and worker safety through reduced construction time, reduced cost and waste, improvements to occupant comfort and health, and reduced energy use. 

Background

The building construction industry has been largely the same over the past century1 but has the potential to transform thanks to recent advancements in manufacturing, fabrication, materials, and logistics. Presently, we use traditional construction methods, including transporting building components individually, for on-site construction. Advances in materials and methods have improved energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and occupant comfort, and novel construction practices could maximize the benefits from these advancements. The Department of Energy’s Advanced Building Construction (ABC) initiative, which is led by the Building Technologies Office (BTO), is specifically focusing on integrating energy efficient solutions into highly productive U.S. construction practices for new buildings and retrofits.2

There have been significant advances in manufacturing processes and material science in recent years, and while industries such as vehicle and airline manufacturing have taken advantage of these improvements to build vehicles that are lighter, more durable, and more energy efficient, the construction industry is slower to adapt. Significant opportunities exist for radical improvements in the building construction industry, and we should look to the technologies developed in other manufacturing industries for inspiration. Dramatic changes to how buildings are built and what materials are used could lead to improvements in energy efficiency, worker safety, occupant health and comfort, new business opportunities and reduced costs, as well as more specific improvements in flexible usage or rapid on-site construction. 

Recent Developments

The building construction industry has recently seen several companies modularizing the construction process and building portions of buildings (walls or apartment units) in an assembly-line-style factory.3,4 This allows construction to occur indoors, unaffected by weather, and reduces completion time by creating tasks that can either be automated or improved by repetition. Modularization offers many new business opportunities and new jobs while simultaneously improving worker safety. In addition, the cost of construction is lower—potentially up to 20% less5—and streamlined because of these process improvements, but companies are still generally using traditional construction materials and methods. Cost savings under current practices come from buying material in bulk and reducing on-site delays from weather, among other things.

Novel and innovative solutions for materials or manufacturing processes could lead to dramatic improvements in energy efficiency, durability, and other amenities. 3D printing and increasing the use of automation are examples of innovative methods that have been applied to buildings, but there are likely other new processes and materials that could also be used in building construction.6,7,8 Energy savings, improved occupant comfort, and indoor environment can also be achieved by increasing the precision of the materials (less air leakage, for example) and by reducing the time that materials are exposed to the elements. 

Other benefits could be realized by bringing more creativity to building construction. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how offices should be configured, what meets the definition of a hospital, and even how our homes are used.9 Our buildings are currently designed and built for a single primary use, and changing that requires significant construction for remodeling. Are there ways of using novel materials and designs to make buildings more configurable, such as changes to the way interior walls (and all the embedded infrastructure) are built to be more conducive to adaptation? Another potential driver could be localized disaster response. The Federal Emergency Management Agency often delivers trailers for temporary housing following disasters such as hurricanes or forest fires.10 What if temporary housing that is durable, energy efficient, and comfortable could be prebuilt and flat-packed, ready to be shipped to places of need with minimal notice? And then deconstructed, relocated, and repurposed as needed?

The Challenge

If you are not limited by traditional building materials or methods, what could you do? If you do not need to build a house (or other building) at the site but could build pieces in a factory, what could you do? What materials could you incorporate that would not work well when building vertical walls? (Maybe a material that starts off as a liquid?) Could you create a totally different paradigm for buildings, such as easily reconfigurable rooms? Are there aspects to how buildings are built today that are practical but result in missed opportunities for improving health, comfort, or environmental impact?

This challenge is to develop an innovative solution incorporating substantial changes in building materials or construction methods, leading to benefits such as increased productivity through reduced construction time, brand new business models or jobs, improvements to worker safety, reduced cost and waste, improvements to occupant comfort and health, and reduced energy use. Other benefits, such as creating flexible interior spaces, can also be a key driver. The solution could include one or more of the following strategies:

  • Propose the application of a new construction method. This new method does not have to be completely novel but could be an existing process used in other manufacturing sectors. The solution will include details of how this process can be applied to buildings and why it is an improvement over traditional methods. 
  • Propose the application of a new material in buildings. The material does not have to be completely novel but could be an existing material that has not been widely used in buildings. The solution will include details of the material, its benefits, and how it will be used in building construction, as well as a discussion around why it is an improvement over traditional materials. 
  • Propose a solution for buildings that will allow rooms to be more easily reconfigured, which can be beneficial during extreme circumstances like a pandemic, but will also be beneficial under normal circumstances such as an increase or decrease in on-site employees for commercial buildings or special events.
  • Propose a solution that takes advantage of new construction processes, new materials, or both to substantially improve the functionality of disaster-relief housing in both design and logistics. 
  • Propose a solution in building materials, construction methods, or design that promotes concepts of a circular economy aimed at eliminating waste and encouraging continual use of resources, such as designing for disassembly and re-use.

All solutions must include a cost/benefit analysis. New processes, methods, and materials typically experience elevated initial costs and the following questions should be considered: 

  • How will costs be reduced in order to get to large-scale adoption? 
  • How do those costs compare to the cost of traditional best practices?
  • What benefits will the new solution bring that might outweigh costs?
  • Are there new business models that could be used to sell the solution? 

Cost estimates should focus on those new processes, methods, and/or materials compared with current practices. Cost estimates need not be exhaustive to the entire construction process. Benefits must also be quantified, including energy efficiency, occupant comfort and health, and/or building flexibility. 

Solutions may address single-family residences, multifamily housing, or commercial buildings, and should include: 

  • The proposed approach
  • The construction method or building material and information about its current use and properties
  • Details about how the proposed changes will integrate with traditional building methods and components, when necessary
  • Discuss appropriate and expected impacts and benefits of the proposed solution, which could include costs, time of construction, new business models, energy usage, occupant health, worker safety, and increased productivity 
  • A technology-to-market plan for how to scale up this solution to make an impact on the building industry. The construction industry includes many different companies and radical change does not come easily, so the technology-to-market plan should also address how to scale-up this solution such that an impact on the building industry can be made.

Downloadable Challenge Description

Additional Challenge Resources

Requirements

Competing in this challenge is open to student teams currently enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges. See the Terms and Conditions for eligibility requirements. Please note that you must begin your Building Technologies Internship Program (BTIP) application before or at the same time as you submit your idea in order to compete in the JUMP competition.

Please submit the following as one PDF document.

  • Project Team Background (up to 2 pages, single-spaced)
    • Form a team of 2 to 4 students. These students represent the project team, and will all consult on the problem.
    • The Project Team Background should include:
      • Project name, team name, and collegiate institution(s)
      • Team mission statement
      • A short biography for each team member. Include information such as major, level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, graduate), and other relevant background information such as experience with building science, future career goals, and formative experiences that shaped each individual’s contribution to the challenge.
      • Diversity Statement (one paragraph 5-7 sentences): One of JUMP into STEM’s key objectives is to encourage diversity of thought and background in students entering the building science industry. There is a diversity gap in the industry, meaning that it is underrepresented by certain groups—including, but not limited to, those based on race, ethnicity, and gender—and this gap needs to be addressed. Diversity of thought can be achieved through teams consisting of students from different majors and minors. As part of the next generation of building science thought leaders and researchers, you have a unique opportunity to influence this industry. Please describe how your team is contributing to diversity in building science
    • The Project Team Background does not count toward the 5-page Project Challenge Submission.
  • Project Challenge Submission (up to 5 pages, single-spaced)
    • Select one of the three challenges to address
    • Investigate the background of the challenge and consider related stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who are affected by the problem as well as those who may have decision-making power and provide solutions (technical or nontechnical, such as policies). Include any market stakeholders, such as manufacturers.
    • Write a one- to two-paragraph problem statement, focusing on a specific aspect of the problem and a stakeholder group affected by the problem. The stakeholder group can be from a specific location, socioeconomic status, age, or demographic (e.g., people living in subsidized housing).
    • Write a technical solution or process that addresses or solves the specific problem from your problem statement. Address the requirements for your selected challenge. Include graphs, figures, and photos.
    • Develop a one- to two-paragraph technology-to-market plan that describes how the team envisions bringing their idea from paper concept to being installed on real buildings or integrated into the design of real buildings. Include cost and benefit analyses in the technology-to-market plan. This does not need to be exhaustive and should focus on comparing the solution to current or existing practices. Benefits such as building energy reductions and improved occupant health or productivity should be evaluated.
  • Appendix (optional, no page limit)
    • Teams may wish to add an appendix. This is optional and might not be reviewed by the judges.
    • The appendix has no page limit.

Evaluation Criteria

Technical (40%)

  • Technical solution or process: how well the proposed technology addresses the problem.
  • Technical feasibility: the solution’s technical feasibility/potential, including the viability of the proposed technology. For example, solutions that are not technically possible or that lack a technical feasibility discussion will receive lower scores.
  • Technology-to-market plan: the proposed technology-to-market plan, including the team’s cost/benefit analysis of the solution. How technically feasible is the proposed plan to bring the solution from a paper concept to installation or integration with real buildings or building designs? Costs and benefits can include both monetary and non-monetary evaluations.
  • Technical response: how well the team’s written submission responds to the technical requests of the challenge.

Innovation (30%)

  • Market characterization and readiness for proposed idea: team’s description and understanding of the market and how the solution will create economic value to drive industry adoption.
  • Replicability and scalability: team’s description on how they will produce the product cost-effectively and scale the idea beyond original prototypes.
  • Novelty: the originality and creativity of the solution and how significant the contribution will be to the building industry.

Diversity and Applicability (30%)

  • Diversity statement: how well the team addresses the diversity gap in the building science industry in the diversity statement. This includes how the team brings perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, including students from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This also includes students from many different disciplines—diversity of thought.
  • Stakeholder engagement: how well the team understands their stakeholder community and creates a problem statement around this community’s challenges.
  • Applicability to stakeholders: how well the solution addresses the problem statement and associated stakeholder community.

How to Create a Successful Submission

Slides

Citations

  1. Barbosa, Filipe,  Jonathan WoetzelJan MischkeMaria João RibeirinhoMukund Sridhar, Matthew Parsons, Nick Bertram, and Stephanie Brown. 2017. Reinventing construction through a productivity revolution. McKinsey & Company. 
  2. EERE. 2020. “What is the Advanced Building Construction Initiative?”
  3. Modular Building Institute. “Modular Building Institute Home.”
  4. ModX.network. “Exchanges.” 
  5. Bertram, Nick, Steffen Fuchs, Jan Mischke, Robert Palter, Gernot Strube, and Jonathan Woetzel. 2019. Modular construction: From projects to products. McKinsey & Company. 
  6. Bendix, Aria. 2019. “These 3D printed homes can be built for less than $4,000 in just 24 hours.” Business Insider. 
  7. ORNL. 2015. “ORNL integrated energy demo connects 3D printing, vehicle.” News. 
  8. Novotny, Rachel. 2019. “How Automation in Construction is Reshaping the Construction Industry.” eSub Construction Software. 
  9. McGregor, Jena. 2020. “ The post-pandemic workplace will hardly look like the one we left behind.” Washington Post. 
  10. Keeton, Hugh. 2017. “Coast company developing temporary housing alternative to FEMA trailers.” WLOX.