Each team must be sponsored by a collegiate institution and registered by a faculty advisor. The team must have at least three students and a faculty advisor, and have a designated student team lead. Teams are encouraged to be multidisciplinary and to have industry advisors, such as local home builders or architects, to help inform their decision-making process. There is no limit on the number of teams from a college or the number of students on a team. Multiple colleges may merge to form a team. Teams may develop projects based on an update of existing house plans from a builder or work from conceptual approaches to the design competition. Teams may also take advantage of opportunities to work on redevelopment projects in their local communities. Eligible scenarios are limitless but the submission must conform to the conditions in Table 1. Specific location, building lot, and neighborhood characteristics are required information as context for both the house design and its relationship to surrounding homes and the community. The mandatory minimum design target is the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home and the design solution(s) must be documented in the submission to meet the following criteria:
- They must achieve at least the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home energy performance level and meet the other program requirements for wall insulation, size factor, etc.
- Teams must demonstrate effective integration of building science principles and best practice guidelines for the building envelope and mechanical systems.
- Teams must relate their designs to the marketplace—this means that the teams must demonstrate the affordability of their designs with a 30-year mortgage.
- Architectural, engineering, and construction management team members must complete a free building science course offered by DOE. The course will be available in classroom format at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory or online. This requirement may be waived by the team’s faculty advisor with an attestation of equivalency for courses the student has successfully completed.