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U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition

Welcome to the Race to Zero!


Registration for the 2015 event has closed.

This is an exciting time – a time when Zero Energy Ready Homes have become readily achievable and cost effective. By definition, these high-performance homes are so energy efficient that renewable power can offset most or all the annual energy consumption. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Race to Zero Student Design Competition (Race to Zero) is engaging undergraduate students, graduate students, and university faculty to become part of a new leadership movement to achieve truly sustainable homes.

As part of DOE’s Building America and Zero Energy Ready Home programs, the Race to Zero (formerly known as the Challenge Home Student Design Competition) was designed to:

  • Inspire and develop the next generation of building science professionals.
  • Advance and enhance building science curriculum in universities.
  • Complement the experiential learning benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon through an additional collegiate competition opportunity. 

This competition will help to provide the next generation of architects, engineers, construction managers, and entrepreneurs with skills and experience to start careers in clean energy and generate creative solutions to real-world problems. View the 2014 competition results.

Photo of a large group of people standing in front of a building.

What Is the Race to Zero?

The Race to Zero is an annual competition, open to students and faculty from any interested collegiate institution. The competition is based upon a real-world scenario where a builder needs to update an existing product line (house plan) to a high-performance house design or is developing a new high performance home product line. College teams are posed with a specific design problem and are asked to either redesign an existing floor plan or create a new house design that satisfies the project requirements. The mandatory performance target is the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home specification. For more information on competition requirements and timelines, visit the Competition Requirements page or contact or (206) 498-1308.