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Building America Update Newsletter

Building America Update Newsletter

Welcome to the Building America Update, a monthly newsletter. Read this month's feature story, or select the other newsletter topics below for more information. You can also Subscribe to receive the email version of Building America Update or browse newsletter archives.

Designing the Future at the Race to Zero Student Design Competition

And now, a few words from our students…our students at this year’s U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition (Race to Zero):

“It gives me the ability to implement all the skills I’ve learned in school and really apply them to fields that I otherwise wouldn’t get to see.”

“I really wanted to learn about building science. …this competition was a great opportunity to learn more about a field that wasn’t really offered at our university.”

“We participated in Race to Zero to combine interior design and architecture to help out future generations.”

“I competed to change the way the building industry performs at the current state.”

As you can tell from these quotes, the Race to Zero provided another unparalleled opportunity to learn and grow, and lives were forever changed. An unexpected blizzard couldn’t deter the enthusiasm or hinder the competition, and in the end created a magical backdrop for the entire event.

Nearly 200 students, faculty advisors, and industry partners converged on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus in Golden, Colorado, to participate in the third annual Race to Zero, April 16-17. The competition challenges collegiate teams to design zero energy ready homes that are so efficient that they can offset all or most of their annual energy consumption with renewable energy.

This year's competition featured 31 teams from 25 universities. During the past several months, these student teams were tasked with creating a new house design or redesigning an existing floor plan to meet the competition's criteria for market-ready zero energy ready homes that are cost-effective, high-performance, and beautifully designed. The final portion of the competition concluded at NREL, where the students presented their innovative solutions to a panel of national expert jurors. These experts included leading high-performance home builders, architects, building science professionals, building product manufacturer technical experts, and national laboratory research scientists.

After first and second place winners were chosen in each of four categories at the awards banquet, each first-place winner gave an abbreviated presentation to a special team of ‘grand jurors’, industry leaders, and their peers. From these presentations, the grand jurors chose the grand winner of the competition, the Green Future Team from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas. The Green Future team won the Urban Single-Family Housing contest with their Double Barrel Project. The jury commented that they did an excellent job of ensuring affordability through a simple zero energy ready design, integrated important non-energy benefits such as resilience to hurricanes and flooding, and used high-performance, readily available products.

The full list of first and second place contest winners include:

Suburban Single-Family Housing Contest

  • First place: Appalachian State University—Team (Re)Connect, Resilient House Project, Boone, North Carolina
  • Second place: Philadelphia University—Emergence team, House II Project, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Urban Single-Family Housing Contest

  • First place: Prairie View A&M University—Green Future Team, Double Barrel Project, Prairie View, Texas
  • Second place: University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee—Net Zero Wisconsin Team, Forward House Project, Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Attached Housing Contest

  • First place: Philadelphia University—PhilaU Powered to Zero Team, New Affordable Zero Homes Project, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Second place: Illinois Institute of Technology—Net-Zero IIT Team, Net-Zero IIT Town Housing Project, Chicago, Illinois

Small Multifamily Housing Contest

  • First place: Ryerson University—True North Design Team, Eastern Pine Project, Toronto, Ontario
  • Second place: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—Team LINKoln, LINKoln Locale Project, Champaign, Illinois

Find out more about the competition on the Race to Zero website. Presentations from the winning teams are also available.