Finalists Announced in Green Energy Challenge Student Competition

Student teams from Oregon State University, The Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Washington will be competing for the top prize in the first Green Energy Challenge student design competition. The three finalists will present their entries at the annual convention of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) in Seattle, on Sept. 12.

The finalists were selected following the first round of judging from seven entries from NECA student chapters around the country. NECA and ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction, Inc. sponsored the Green Energy Challenge. A complete listing of project proposals will be available after the winning project is announced in September.

The Green Energy Challenge invited teams of students studying electrical construction, engineering, design and management to conduct an energy audit of a local K-12 school. Based on their findings, students developed customized proposals for energy retrofits that would improve the schools' energy efficiency. Teams also designed a new solar PV and/or wind energy system for the facility.

Seven highly-regarded leaders from the electrical construction industry served as jurors for this phase of the competition: Wayne Butler, Pel-Bern Electric, Rockville, Md.; Kevin McCosky, Coastal Electric Construction Corp., Patchogue, N.Y.; Dan Divane, Divane Bros. Electric, Franklin Park, Ill.; Dennis Quebe, Chapel Electric, Dayton, Oh.; Don Campbell, Northern California Chapter, NECA, Dublin, Calif.; Tim McBride, Southern Contracting Company, San Marcos, Calif., and David Moeller, Graybar, St. Louis, Mo.

“The judging panel was overwhelming impressed with the quality of each submission,” said Laura Capuco, Director of Operations, ELECTRI International. “For several weeks, each judge reviewed and scored the submissions individually. The entire jury met via conference call to discuss their individual evaluations and determine the teams’ scores.  Several of the proposals ended up being ranked very close. There was definitely stiff competition.”

The teams’ energy solutions proposals were evaluated on lighting analysis; transformer/distribution analysis; a solar photovoltaic or wind energy system design; schematic estimate and schedule; financing plan to implement the proposal; LEED certification for Existing Buildings Review; and format/appearance.

"It's a very technically advanced program," said David Riley, faculty advisor for the Penn State student team. "The problems aren't hypothetical, so the solutions that students developed couldn’t be either. Ultimately, we hope the schools can use the student teams’ proposals to start energy efficiency upgrades in their buildings.”

Each participating team will receive a $500 prize recognizing their work from Southern Contracting Company, San Marcos, Calif. Southern Contracting will also award each finalist team $1,000, and the grand prize of $5,000 for the winning proposal. Southern Contracting is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and a key contributor to the Foundation’s Talent Initiative program to support students’ interest in a career in the electrical construction industry. 

“Southern Contracting is especially pleased to be a part of the Green Energy Challenge since so much our own business is now dealing with solar and renewable energy projects,” said Tim McBride, President and CEO, Southern Contracting. “We hope that students will be inspired to bring the same enthusiasm and creativity to an electrical contracting company one day that they brought to this project.”

Student teams also received financial support and technical guidance from their local NECA chapters and member firms in preparing their submissions.

 “The Green Energy Challenge is a true hands-on learning opportunity for the next generation of energy professionals,” said NECA CEO John M. Grau. “Students are now following careers in construction because they see it as a way to make a meaningful difference in their world. I’m pleased we can give them this opportunity, and maybe help some local schools start saving on their own energy costs.”

The winning student proposal will be announced following the team presentations on Sept. 12 in Seattle. A catalog of all entries will be published online with the announcement.

NECA is the voice of the $130 billion electrical construction industry that brings power, light, and communication technology to buildings and communities across the U.S. NECA’s national office and 119 local chapters advance the industry through advocacy, education, research and standards development. For more information, visit

ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction, Inc. is the primary research arm of the electrical construction industry. Foundation research helps to improve the productivity, professionalism, and competitiveness of electrical contractors. For more information, visit

NECA Student Chapters Participating in the 2009 Green Energy Challenge

NECA Student Chapter Sponsoring NECA Chapter
OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY Oregon-Columbia and Oregon-Pacific-Cascade Chapters, NECA
PURDUE UNIVERSITY Central Indiana Chapter, NECA

Contact Information

Beth Margulies, Director, Public Relations


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