The Penn State student team won first place in the Suburban Single-Family Housing Contest of the U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition on April 22.
One of 40 teams representing 34 institutions and five countries, the Penn State team qualified as finalists to attend the competition at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, April 20-22. The annual competition provides the next generation of architects, engineers, construction managers, and entrepreneurs with the skills and experience to start careers in clean energy and generate creative solutions to real-world problems. This year’s competition began with students from 84 teams, representing 68 collegiate institutions across nine countries before the selection of finalists.
Penn State partnered with a regional production builder, S&A Homes, to redesign their most popular single-family detached-home design to meet the Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) design standard. Over the past seven months, the student team periodically met with Bob Shoemaker, tech services construction manager of S&A Homes, to learn about the company’s process of design and construction and to review their competition project with him. Additionally, in late September, students attended a site visit through an under-construction home at a local development with Tom Jacobs, land manager of S&A Homes, to better understand construction details for their home design. The students’ final ZERH design utilized two of S&A Homes’ top-selling home models to create a new, feasible, high performance home that is accessible and sustainable for home buyers throughout the south and central Pennsylvania regions.
Requiring an interdisciplinary team to produce a successful design, the project team consisted of students representing multiple colleges and departments at Penn State. The student team was led by veteran competition team members: Tom Hanna, a senior in mechanical engineering, and Sean Copeland, a junior in energy engineering. Team members included students in architecture: Manal Anis, Puja Bhagat, Jeffrey Carroll, Umme Hani, Alexis Mengers and Jonathon Wong. Also, it included students in architectural engineering: Neno Agnello, Michael Haftl, Emily Bogert, Justin Charles, Carol Chen, Hanwen Mu, Carly Asadi and Blaise Waligun. Additional team members were Elizabeth Basista, energy engineering, and Alex Vinitski, civil engineering.