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Competition: Race to Zero

An international student design contest has been announced for innovative zero-energy buildings (Deadline: 7 November)

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Open to multidisciplinary teams of university students, and now in its fifth year, the annual competition seeks proposals for new high-performance and energy-efficient residential and commercial buildings which offset most of their energy consumption using renewable energy

The project, backed by the United States Department of Energy, will select 40 teams to participate in a series of contests covering suburban, urban, attached and multi-family housing, and elementary schools. Participants will apply the department’s Zero Energy Ready Home specification to either create new buildings or redesign existing floor plans already under mass production.

According to the brief: ‘The competition challenges collegiate teams to design zero energy ready buildings that are so high performance and energy efficient that all or most annual energy consumption can be offset with renewable energy.

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

The Race to Zero is open to students and faculty staff – specialising in areas such as architecture, engineering, construction management and enterprise – from all collegiate institutions.

The grand winner of last year’s contest was a collaboration between Ryerson University and University of Toronto dubbed LaneZero. The project looked at how Toronto could increase its density and enhance existing communities by delivering new net-zero homes on unused land next to existing transport lanes.

Participating teams in the latest contest must be sponsored by a collegiate institution and feature at least three students along with a faculty advisor and leader. Input from industry advisors, such as local home builders, is also encouraged.

Interested teams will need to submit their application along with a three-page project introduction by 7 November.

Successful applicants will then be invited to attend a series of webinars and training sessions before attending the competition summit at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado on 21 and 22 April 2018.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 7 November.

Contact details

Visit the competition website for more information

Email: racetozero@nrel.gov

LaneZero case study: Q&A with Matthew Ferguson and Hayley Cormick

Ryerson University’s architectural lead (Masters of Architecture) and team lead (Masters of Building Science) discuss lessons learned working on last year’s winning entry

How will your contest-winning LaneZero project help Toronto densify with new Net-Zero homes?

Toronto’s booming residential sector faces several key challenges: high cost of living, exorbitant land costs, affordable housing shortages, urban sprawl, and rising greenhouse gas emissions. Laneway houses have the potential to create a new standard for urban growth, allowing the existing infrastructure in the city’s most coveted neighbourhoods to densify without sacrificing character. The LaneZero development model allows current homeowners to be primary stakeholders in the growth of their neighbourhood by replacing existing, uninhabitable garages with new rental dwellings, creating an opportunity for incremental and non-disruptive development within the existing downtown core. The LaneZero project demonstrates ways in which net-zero energy buildings can be achieved in urban centres, helping cities meet long-term carbon reduction targets without sacrificing growth.

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Which architectural, material, sustainable and other methods did you harness in your design?

Achieving net-zero energy on a small, urban site requires a close relationship between the form of the building and the energy output of the solar array. LaneZero’s design maximises the size and orientation of the integrated roof-mounted solar array, while simultaneously providing opportunities for integrated passive design solutions.The LaneZero design considered the quantity and quality of daylight penetration to ensure year-round comfort. Leveraging the low-angle sun in the wintertime the design features large south facing windows to maximise free heat gains while offsetting the heating demand. Alternatively, appropriate shading for the summertime limits the amount of direct sunlight lowering the cooling demand.

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Prefabrication was necessary for LaneZero to achieve a highly insulated building envelope without sacrificing floor area on the tight site, and paired with the reuse of cladding from existing garages vastly reduces construction waste. The second-floor living space and balcony ensure privacy and encourages tenant interaction with the laneway, fostering a vibrant character for laneway neighbourhoods.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing entries for this year’s Race to Zero competition?

What made the LaneZero project stand out in the Race to Zero competition was our attempt to answer many big problems being faced in our own backyard - affordability, densification, transportation and housing shortage, with a unique yet plausible solution. Keep an open mind, question the status quo and don’t accept preconceived notions of limitations. Attempt the impossible and aim to address every problem in detail while leveraging every team member’s assets and skills to keep an eye on the bigger picture. Ultimately, a collective effort is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Lanezero contest winning scheme by Future Cities Collective team

Q&A with Rachel Romero

The organiser discusses her ambitions for the competition

Rachel Romero

Rachel Romero

Rachel Romero

Why are your holding a contest for a new zero-energy housing products?

The Race to Zero inspires collegiate students to become the next generation of building science professionals through a design challenge for zero energy ready buildings. Students become part of a new leadership movement to achieve truly sustainable buildings. The Race to Zero is formulated to advance and enhance building science curriculum in universities. 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.