Harvard’s team of graduate students competing in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Case Competition was recognized as presenting the “most innovative” proposal for their recommendations to improve energy efficiency in quick service restaurants. David Henning (MUP), Brian Vargo (MDes), and Arta Yazdanseta (MDes) from the Graduate School of Design worked on the project with Jordan Smith, Lauren Hartle, Benjamin Franta, and Eliza Morris from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Holly Samuelson (assistant professor of architecture) was faculty advisor. The Better Buildings Case Competition was launched following President Obama’s announcement of the Better Buildings Initiative in February 2011, and is designed to support DOE in moving towards a target of 20% energy consumption reduction in commercial buildings across the nation by 2020. Students from engineering, real estate, finance, architecture and other related fields serve as policy advisers and consultants as they evaluate real-world cases pertaining to private and public sector challenges. Teams are tasked with devising solutions to achieve greater energy efficiency, with the competition culminating in presentations to expert panels of industry partners and senior policymakers. Operating under the team name “Crown Joules”, the Harvard team received the award on March 14th at DOE in Washington, DC. Twenty-five other university teams submitted proposals in the competition, including Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, and others. See more information about the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Case Competition. Photo caption: Harvard graduate students receive award at the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Case Competition. Left to right: Maria Vargas, Director of the Department of Energy Better Buildings Initiative, presents the award to graduate students Jordan Smith, Lauren Hartle, and Benjamin Franta.