Energy Department announces winners of 2015 Race to Zero student design competition



The Energy Department announced winners of its second annual Race to Zero Student Design Competition, a collegiate competition engaging university students to design zero energy-ready homes. A zero energy-ready home is a high-performance home that is so energy efficient it can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption with renewable energy. This significantly reduces a home's annual electricity costs while improving comfort, health, safety, and durability.

The awards recognize students who excel at integrating solid building science principles into designs for zero energy-ready homes including creative solutions to real-world problems. Criteria for recognition included adherence to the Department's Zero Energy Ready Home program criteria, clear project plans, and overall competency in applying best practices from the Department's Building America program. Top priorities for each entry are geared toward developing cost-effective, market-ready, zero energy-ready homes.

The competition is intended to inspire next-generation architects, engineers, and construction managers to apply the latest building science innovations in new and existing buildings. A major goal of the competition as it grows in popularity is to advance building science curriculum in university programs across the country. Competing undergraduate students, graduate students, and university faculty are at the forefront of a leadership movement to design truly sustainable homes.

This year's competition featured 33 teams from 27 universities. Over the last several months, students were tasked with redesigning an existing floor plan or creating a new house design to meet the competition's cost-effective, high-performance home energy requirements. The final portion of the competition concluded at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, April 18-19, as the students presented their innovative designs to a panel of national experts. These experts included leading high-performance home builders, building science professionals, building product manufacturer technical experts, and national laboratory research scientists.

Eighteen awards were given in five categories:

Grand Winner
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Grand Winner Finalists
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport, Williamsport, Pennsylvania
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign–Team Illinois, Champaign, Illinois

Analysis Excellence
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Ryerson University–Team DAS Haus, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

Design Excellence
Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania
Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas
Ryerson University's Department of Architectural Science–Team Provenance Lane, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Ryerson University's Department of Architectural Science–Team Øzone, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
University of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada

Systems Integration Excellence
Illinois State University–Team Redbird Red, Normal, Illinois
Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania
Ryerson University's Department of Architectural Science–Team Øzone, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

The Department also announced it will hold the 2016 Race to Zero Student Design Competition next April at NREL.