7th Annual Green Energy Challenge: Iowa State Cyclones Bring Home Second Win

In August, ELECTRI International selected three NECA student chapters as finalists for the 2015 Green Energy Challenge. Out of 17 proposals the panel selected Iowa State University, Pennsylvania State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology as finalists, providing each student chapter with a $2,000 travel award.

On Saturday, Oct. 3, the teams faced the jury of NECA member contactors and industry partners at the annual NECA Convention and Trade Show in San Francisco. Each team developed a backup power system and resiliency plan for an existing facility demonstrating critical power needs. Each student chapter had 15 minutes to present and an additional 10 minutes to field project questions from the judges and convince the panel that their design and project proposal delivered the most significant payback and long term energy efficiency.

For the second year in a row the Iowa State Cyclone Energy Team captured first place and a $4,000 cash prize from ELECTRI.

The winning proposal

Cyclone Energy selected Iowa State’s Administrative Services Building (ASB) as the target facility. Housing one of the university’s two datacenters, uninterrupted power is critical to ASB’s operations. The students interviewed ASB employees to assess their needs and determine how the project could improve the overall health and wellness of occupants. Outdated fluorescent fixtures created uneven distribution and shadowy workspaces for employees. In response Cyclone Energy went to work to develop a LED lighting retrofit, including 400 fixtures with occupancy sensors and further daylight harvesting.

Part of the project plan also incorporated a critical load and microgrid analysis. Cyclone Energy’s design included the implementation of more than 442 solar modules to generate 143 kilowatts of renewable energy.

No project is feasible without an estimate, schedule and financing course of action. Cyclone Energy students worked to develop an accurate project cost, attractive payback period and a schedule utilizing summer months to minimize disruption and downtime. ASB will remain operational throughout the LED retrofit and solar array installation.

As a nonprofit university, Cyclone Energy turned to the Iowa Energy Bank Loan to secure low-interest financing for the project, providing energy audit documentation.

Project stats

Total project cost: just over $1 million

Duration: 165 calendar days

Projected completion: September 2016

Payback period: 9.3 years with an annual savings of more than $67,000 per year

Iowa State was named the winner of the Green Energy Challenge at the Opening General Session of NECA 2015  in San Francisco Sunday, Oct. 4.

This annual event helps engage student chapters across the country, challenging them to develop real-life proposals, sharpen professional oral and written communication skills and develop future leaders in energy-efficient project planning and design.


TrueLine Publishing was a delight to work with. They were extremely patient and worked diligently to get our article written and published. The team always responded in a timely manner and was courteous. I look forward to working with TrueLine Publishing in the future and will recommend them to other businesses.
— Crystal Leos, Business Development, DALLASWHITE Property Restoration
The team at US Builders Review is professional and did a great job with your published article. They asked for and listened to my feedback and responded quickly to any requests I made.
— Susan Courter, Director of Business Development, R.E. Crawford Construction
Thank you all your efforts in putting together such a great article about our company in US Builders Review. DH Construction appreciates the professional manner in which your team worked with us to achieve the stateside exposure we were after; especially taking the time to get all of the facts correct. In short, the article was extremely well put together and we have already received a great deal of feedback, interest, and compliments as a result of the piece. Once again, we appreciate all the effort, and without a doubt, we will not hesitate to work with your organization again in the future.
— Daniel Harrigan, Principal, DH Construction
Everyone that we worked with was polite, professional, responsive & very good to work with. It was amazing to see the ideas transformed into the final product. We are very happy with the end results and would not hesitate to work with them in the future or recommend them to other business!
— James Kowalski, Owner, Kowalski Construction Inc.
The final product was an exceptionally well written and thorough story integrated with many of our project photos. It is a great endorsement of our company and our work that we are promoting on our website and through social media. We were impressed with the quality of the editorial and the professional follow-through.
— Susan Howell, Marketing Director for Howell Custom Building Group
Ryan at TrueLine was a pleasure to work with and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend him or TrueLine to anyone in the future. They were professional, organized and great to work with through the process!
— James Cahill, President and Partner, J. Calnan & Associates
I would like to commend the US Builders Review staff for their work in developing and writing a fantastic article for Miller Contracting Group, Inc. It was truly a pleasure to work with their professional and well organized staff.
— Chuck Daniels, Business Manager, Miller Contracting Group Inc.
The staff was very helpful and easy to work with while developing our story. They were always open to our ideas and provided us useful information to maximize our visibility using social media. We were certainly pleased with final article.
— Daryl Whitmer, Marketing Program Manager, Harrison French & Associates (HFA)
I’m blown away with the value that could come out of our partnership through this article. Working with the US Builders Review team is something that I have never experienced before and every day I feel even more privileged to be with EJH Construction, I never take for granted the opportunities that have come my way.  I am so excited about what our future looks like based on the relationship that has been built with the US Builders Review team.
Jennifer Wilhelmsen – Director of Human Resources, EJH Construction Inc.
Kyle Gahm was instrumental in coordinating this project from beginning to end. He was always available and a pleasure to work with. It would be a pleasure to work with Kyle down the road. Bill Keaton was very impressive in raising money from advertising which resulted in ASE getting the cover story, so thank you Bill. Lia Prysunka and Jeanee Dudley are both very impressive individuals who deserve a lot of credit for this featured piece. They were both very patient and accepting of any changes we suggested. The format, quality, and resolution was awesome. To sum it all up: Our upper management, who never have been high on PR and things of this nature said that it was "absolutely fantastic" and were blown away. They now are requesting multiple copies of the full magazine and are very proud of the work you all put in. Thanks again.
— Ryan Sanzari, Director of Operations, Alfred Sanzari Enterprises


Spring 2018



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.