One of the challenges of judging in the category of communications, which has very specific criteria, is the temptation to look at the design of the houses as the dominating characteristic. Well, in fact, the design of the house does figure into the equation because it is the house itself that does the communicating. Still it’s important to remind oneself that the communications plan, the website, the video, the strategy of getting the word out, the implementation and success of getting recognized must be at the top of the list for this category of evaluation.

It must be said that first and foremost, it was abundantly clear that all the teams deserve recognition. For a student to have worked so hard for years on a project, which includes taking responsibility for integrating variables of design, engineering, construction, innovation, fundraising, public awareness, and more, is vastly impressive. And the folks who created and are carrying forward this program are an inspiration to the profession and will insure that the younger generation has the tools they need to be successful in a difficult profession haunted by climate change.

Today was no less interesting than yesterday and after several hours of deliberation, the jury came to its conclusions.

The University of Florida’s Re-Focus House, with its simple rectilinear form derivative of the traditional southern Cracker House had, for the jury and this category, a superb strategy and implemented it beautifully. Their gorilla marketing campaign, “make a change not a footprint,” their strategically organized media approach, their website and how it tied into the house’s vision was integrated and strong. This was our top winner.

Coming in second was Virginia Tech’s LumenHaus, a sleek modern design, with a high-tech super brain control system, accessible by Smartphone barcode and I-Pad, an impressive history of publicity (displayed in the National Building Museum, at Times Square in New York, etc.) came in second place. This house had also shown last year in Washington D.C. at the U.S. Solar Decathlon.

Last but not least we admired the Berlin team’s house, Living Equia. Its interesting irregular shape with a black fire-burned wood exterior that matched the color of the PV panels on the rooftop, was a standout. They tied their design in with an overarching concern for climate change (conveyed by their logo), and expressed that both artfully and with high-tech tools. Last but not least (and silly as it sounds) they had a foozeball game positioned in from of the house. Crowds of people were drawn by it, bringing attention to their main focus, the house.

We applaud the teams and the coordinators of the competition.