Net Zero Building Contest Inspires Competition to Build Our Future

Buildings that generate all their own energy on site are all the rage these days. But which net zero building is the best? The Architecture At Zero 2012 competition — hosted by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and AIA San Francisco, in collaboration with UC Merced — aimed to find out, and now the winners have been announced.

Honor Awards were given to Loisos & Ubbelohde Associates for “Silver Streak” [PDF] and Ren Ito Arq. for “Cactus” [PDF], while Merit Awards were given to Archassist for “Cotton Farm” [PDF] and team Wei Yan and Edward Clark for “Homeostasis” [PDF]. Student Awards were given to team Daniel LaRossa and Amadeo Bennetta — recent graduates of University of Virginia – for “[Agri]cultural Durability,” and a student team from Academy of Art University in San Francisco for “Mountain.”

The design challenge invited designers, academics, researchers and students to design a new zero net energy (ZNE) student housing or administrative office building for the University of California Merced in Merced, California. As part of the Architecture at Zero 2012 challenge, entrants were also asked to create a diagrammatic district energy plan for the Bellevue Gateway development, which is where UC Merced’s new net zero buildings will be located. (Bellevue Gateway is a new mixed-use development located on the campus that will act as both the primary entrance to the University with sports facilities, dining, residential spaces, administration, and parking.)

The Architecture at Zero 2012 competition was designed to support the ambitious action plan on the part of the California Public Utilities Commission that will require all new residential construction in the state to be zero net energy by 2020. (The goal for new commercial construction is to achieve zero net energy by 2030.)