The Department of Energy’s Reality Show Makes Efficiency Fun

It’s not easy to communicate excitement around energy efficiency because it’s all about HVAC upgrades, incremental improvements to boiler systems, and LED lightbulbs. But with the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP–an Apprentice-style energy efficiency face-off in which teams from two organizations try to find wasted energy in the other’s operations–the Department of Energy makes a good show of it. Watching teams of energy professionals nitpick each other’s facilities is surprisingly good viewing, even if the made-for-TV rivalry and portentous voiceover feels too much like The Apprentice at times.

The first installment last year saw Whole Foods take on Hilton Worldwide, before a second pitted the Air Force Academy against the Naval Academy. The latest turns to cities, with Boston taking on Atlanta. Teams from each city visit a range of properties, including airports, libraries, water treatment works, and streets. They find faults in corridor airflows, rhapsodize about rooftop solar panels, and needle each other about phantom light fixtures and the height of heating fans. It’s great fun.

Read more (FAST Company)