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

Watch this video to learn more about the Race to Zero Student Design Competition.

Welcome to the Race to Zero!

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) inspires collegiate students to become the next generation of building science professionals through a design challenge for zero energy ready homes.

Students 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 was designed to:

  • Inspire and develop the next generation of building science professionals.
  • Advance and enhance building science curriculum in universities. 

2016 Invited Collegiate Teams

Registration for the 2016 competition closed on November 12, 2015, and DOE is excited to announce that 34 teams from 27 collegiate institutions have been invited to compete. Eight institutions have more than one team registered.

  • Appalachian State University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Humboldt State University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Illinois State University
  • Lansing Community College
  • Michigan State University
  • Montana State University
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology
  • The Pennsylvania State University
  • Philadelphia University
  • Prairie View A&M University
  • Roger Williams University
  • Ryerson University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Miami
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Southern California
  • The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • University of Wyoming
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Washington University in St. Louis

Through this competition, future architects, engineers, construction managers, and entrepreneurs will gain the skills and experience to start careers in clean energy and generate creative solutions to real-world problems. View the 2015 competition results.

Image of a group of people in front of the NREL Cafe.

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 is developing a new high performance home product line or needs to update an existing product line (house plan) to a high-performance house design. College teams are posed with a design problem and are asked to either create a new house design that satisfies the project requirements or redesign an existing floor plan. 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