In its inaugural year, 28 teams from U.S. and Canadian universities competed in DOE’s Challenge Home Student Design Competition to develop cost-effective, zero energy ready homes for mainstream builders. The winning teams produced market-ready, state-of-the-art design solutions for high-performance homes that are energy efficient, comfortable, and durable. The designs are for zero energy ready homes, meaning their high-performance features sharply reduce energy use, and all or most of the remaining energy use can be offset with renewable energy.

This spring, the teams were judged by national experts including leading high-performance builders, building science professionals, and researchers. The main criteria for selection were design/construction strategies, clear project plans, required analyses, and overall competency applying best practice solutions and principles of building science from DOE’s Building America program. Building America is the research and development arm of DOE’s Residential Buildings Program.

“The next generation of housing industry professionals has to be better trained to deliver the home of the future,” says Sam Rashkin, chief architect of DOE’s Building Technologies Program and manager of the student design competition. “The DOE Challenge Home Student Design Competition is part of this important transformation process toward creating better homes and communities. The nationwide benefits of cleaner air, large numbers of green jobs that cannot be outsourced, and greater energy security are just a bonus.”

The final judging and awards ceremony took place in Golden, Colo., at the headquarters of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. During the competition weekend, student teams presented their designs to esteemed jurors, networked with industry professionals, heard from thought leaders on their vision for the future of housing, and celebrated at an awards dinner where several category winners and two grand winners were announced. As administrator for the competition, Home Innovation Research Labs would like to congratulate all of the 2014 winning teams for an outstanding inaugural showing. 

The two grand winners in the competition were Montage Builders Northern Forest: State University of New York—Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse University, and Onondaga Community College for Best Single-Family Detached Design, and Ryerson University’s Urban Harvest Team for Best Single-Family Attached Design.

Project profiles for all winners are available on the competition website. Planning for the 2015 competition is already underway and information on how and when to register is available as well. Any students or faculty members who would like to be informed directly about competition updates can use the “Competition Contact” link on the website.