Architecture at Zero: Beyond Energy Efficient


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architecture-to-zero-winner-phototactic-ville

By Debra Atlas

Architecture at Zero, a contest with a revolutionary approach to green building, announced winning entries this month.

For the competition, participants designed a mixed-use building or set of buildings that produce at least as much energy as they use. This year the site was an eight-acre plot of land that was home to the Sherwin-Williams paint factory in Emeryville, California for almost 100 years. The City of Emeryville set out design guidelines and its vision for the final results in partnership with PG&E.

“They advised us of their vision and we made sure that the entries followed that,” says PG&E Media Representative Jason King.

 The designs were required to:

  • Include housing, retail space, and a new public library branch;
  • Be tied to the grid;
  • Have the energy use of the building and its occupants be less than or equal to the energy produced by on-site renewable generation; and
  • Meet the conditions of the Emeryville General Plan, including open space requirements for the site and the extension of the street grid into the site.

Many design challenges stand in the way of making buildings zero net energy, and Sierra Club Green Home is pleased to see Zero Net Energy address them. The goal of the contest was to spark creative thinking about developing these types of buildings, according to King.

The contest was open to students, architects, engineers, and designers from all over the world. The prizes totaled $25,000, and were divided among five winners. The winning entries are truly impressive. They incorporate a variety of renewable aspects, including artificial wetlands, solar panels, and existing green space.

The winners were:

  • Chris Parlette of WA Design Architects, Berkeley, California. His design, “Towards Net Zero Energy,” features 240 housing units throughout the site, incorporating rooftop solar panels, on-site power generation, and domestic hot water generation. The design also features bicycle and pedestrian paths.
  • Tom Tang and Yijie Dang of New York, whose design, “Chimera,” features an overlapping set of angular-shaped buildings that share energy and create space for urban agriculture.

Student awards went to:

  • “Ripple Effect” by students Curtis Ryan, Sara Maas, Kyle Blomquist, and Megan Gelazus from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. This fun design features winding, snake-like, staggered housing with solar panel roofs, day lighting, cross ventilation airflow, green roofs, and balconies. The design connects into the Emeryville Greenway.
  • “Phototactic-Ville” by Harvard student Jihyoon Yoon, which incorporates two energy-efficient buildings with a solar collector, and an artificial wetland for water filtration.

No funding has been set aside for building these designs, says King. However, they will be presented to the Emeryville City Council for its consideration.

“It depends on the city of Emeryville to move any of these forward,” he says.

The winning designs are currently on display at the California Public Utilities Commission offices and are scheduled to be displayed at the Emeryville City Hall. They are also set to be published in an upcoming catalog, and to be part of a traveling exhibition throughout California during 2012.

The Zero Net Energy Pilot Program, which includes the competition, comes from a partnership between Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

For related article, see:
$25,000 Challenge for Zero Net Energy Design

Check out more articles by Debra Atlas.
© 2011 SCGH, LLC.

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