HISTORY

The Architecture at Zero competition, now in its eighth year, was conceived as a response to the zero net energy targets set out by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) in the 2008 report, California’s Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. In this report, the CPUC set out four “Big Bold Energy Efficiency Strategies” for California that include the goals that all new residential construction in California be ZNE by 2020 and that all new commercial construction be ZNE by 2030.


 Bay Area Transect -Merit Award

Bay Area Transect -Merit Award

2018: ESTUARY & OCEAN SCIENCE CENTER, Tiburon

Competition challenge was to create a zero net energy bayside community education and visitor’s center, in support of the mission of the Estuary and Ocean Science Center in Tiburon, CA.

See Winners


 Fogcatcher

Fogcatcher

2016: San Francisco State University

The  2016 competition challenge was to create a zero net energy student housing project at the San Francisco State University campus.

See winners.


 Weber Thompson

Weber Thompson

2015: UC San francisco

The 2015 competition site was part of the University of California, San Francisco’s Mission Bay Campus that would be developed into multifamily residential units over a ground floor of retail, community and support spaces.

See winners.


 University of Aalborg

University of Aalborg

2014: JACK LONDON GATEWAY, Oakland, California

The 2014 competition site was comprised of two adjacent parcels, each to be developed as mixed-use housing over commercial, in Oakland, CA. Parcel 1 was to be developed as affordable family housing over a childcare center or wellness clinic. Parcel 2 was to be developed as market rate housing over a grocery store.
See winners.


  Living in Flux  courtesy Victor Bao (California Polytechnic State University)

Living in Flux courtesy Victor Bao (California Polytechnic State University)

2013: The Tenderloin

The 2013 competition site was at the northwest corner of the intersection of Taylor and Eddy Streets in San Francisco. Although currently used as a surface parking lot, the site is zoned for Residential-Commercial Combined, High Density.
See winners.


 Image courtesy Joseph Ng.

Image courtesy Joseph Ng.

2012: UC Merced

The 2012 design challenge was for a zero net energy (ZNE) student housing or administrative office building design for the University of California, Merced. As part of the Architecture at Zero challenge, entrants were asked to create a diagrammatic district energy plan for the Bellevue Gateway development.
See winners.


 The 2011 Emeryville site.

The 2011 Emeryville site.

2011: Emeryville

The design site for Architecture At Zero 2011 was an industrial urban infill site in Emeryville, California. The design challenge was to create a mixed-use building or set of buildings that included 240 residential housing units, one 1200 square foot retail space and a 4000 square foot new public library branch. As part of the competition, all building designs were required to be grid-tied and reasonably demonstrate the competition’s criteria for zero net energy; that the energy use of the building(s) and its occupants be less than or equal to the energy produced by on-site renewable generation, as measured over a calendar year. See winners.


In 2011 Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), along with key partners, formed the  Architecture  at  Zero Competition (Competition) which is a ZNE design challenge for a pre-selected site in California. Opinion Dynamics conducted a study to examine the effectiveness of the Competition. The research objectives for this study were to measure the Competition’s performance against four key success criteria. These criteria included engaging the target audience, educating competitors about ZNE design practices and why and how their design practices should change, motivating competitors to change their design practices, and empowering competitors to incorporate ZNE principles into their real-world building designs. 

To assess the Competition’s progress towards these criteria, the evaluation team conducted interviews with staff who managed the Competition sites and the jurors and technical reviewers who judged the Competition submissions. The team also conducted surveys with past registrants, current registrants, and past competitors and developed in-depth case studies of four competitor teams. In addition, the team completed a secondary data review of ZNE industry papers, ZNE competition websites, and participant tracking data to provide background context on industry and Competition trends. 

The Competition is well regarded with all parties involved from participants and jurors to Competition site staff. 

For a copy of the report click here.