Net-Zero Competition Calls For Designers

To come up with new designs for a greener future, Dow Chemical Company has announced it will be holding the Dow Solar Design to Zero Competition, open to those in the design, architecture and engineering fields–students and professionals alike–to think up some near-zero energy homes that use both active and passive solar energy.

The design must feature three interconnected homes for a family of two, four and six people, respectively. Fourteen daily activities, such as eating, bathing, sleeping and recreation, must be addressed in the home, and participants must explain how these activities will be carried out in a net-zero environment. The houses are also required to relate to the landscape on which they are built, and utilize the natural resources in sustainable ways. Issues like accessibility are also addressed, and submissions will be judged on their energy-efficiency, affordability (participants are encouraged to incorporate things like recycled materials into their design), and aesthetic qualities.

Image via Dow

The competition will be held entirely online, and registration is open until September 25. All registration fees are said to be donated to an NGO, and all final submissions must be in by October 31. The winners will be announced next spring, and the first place prize is a hefty $20,000.

Pat Nugent, director of new business development at Dow Solar feels that an open competition like this an important step in developing new, clean, and affordable housing options in the future, and is particularly interested in seeing the work of students and young people.  “Having this type of global collaboration and input is also a wonderful way to find creative approaches to incorporating energy efficiency and solar capabilities into a home,” he says. “The aesthetics are becoming more important for consumers who want to live more sustainably, but don’t want their lifestyle or home to be compromised, so it will be especially exciting to see the blend of art and science in these near zero designs.”

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.