Green building and design is one of the fastest growing segments of today’s homebuilding market as more and more homebuyers looking to avoid the high energy bills summer’s blazing temperatures often bring.
To train and encourage the green building professionals of tomorrow, the U.S. Department of Energy is hosting 40 teams from 34 schools across the United states, Canada, Norway, and China for its Race to Zero Student Design Competition. And with the guidance and encouragement of the Dallas Builders Association, the University of North Texas’ Association of Construction Engineering Technology will send its very own team to the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo., this weekend.
The Race to Zero is an annual competition based on a real-world scenario where a builder needs to update an existing product line (house plan) to a high-performance house design or is developing a new high-performance home product line. Teams are presented a specific design problem and are asked to either redesign an existing floor plan or create a new house design that satisfies the project requirements. The mandatory performance target is the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home specification.
The UNT students are one out 10 teams competing in the Urban Single Family category, and the only Texas team at the competition. This category has specific design constraints that include a maximum floor plan of 2,500 square feet and a maximum lot of 5,000 square feet. Students also had to define a specific location, neighborhood characteristics, relationship to the surrounding homes, and included a 3D model of the house
Dallas Builders Association first vice president Alan Hoffmann of Hoffmann Homes is a key industry partner on the project. After the team spoke at a DBA board meeting and requested the assistance of a builder, Alan reached out. The plan used in the team’s submitted design is a home Hoffmann completed in Dallas last fall. With the use of his standard design specification, the team was able to detail the home’s systems and perform analysis on the energy efficiency of the home.
Hoffman says he is “very excited about the recognition they have received and look forward to their continued success at the competition.”
Michael Garza is the secretary for UNT’s Association of Construction Engineering Technology and the team leader.
“The Race to Zero competition has been a great learning experience for our team and really helped us understand how every process from team organization to material selection and innovation needs to be properly planned,” said Garza. “Our team could not have accomplished all of the tasks that were given to us by the competition coordinators without the help of our Industry Advisers. Our advisers took the time to explain in detail how a process would work or how different products would help us reach a high efficiency house. We’ve worked hard as a team making sure our data for this competition can be fully explained and clearly defined for the panel of judges.”