Entrants will be required to submit both design drawings and energy performance documentation. Although each component will inform the other during design, for the purposes of the submission they have been broken out into two “tasks”.


Each entrant or team is asked to propose a design for a mixed use multifamily residential complex.

To demonstrate the efficacy of the design, entrants should diagram and annotate siting decisions, passive techniques, envelope characteristics and other design strategies as much as feasible on the design drawings. To facilitate a result approaching zero net energy, entrants are provided with Energy Use Intensity (EUI) targets for the residences and the commercial spaces. Details can be found under Task 2: Energy Performance Documentation.

Required Drawings and Energy Performance Documentation for Task 1:

*All entrants are required to use the Architecture at Zero 2015 board template found in the Submission Requirements section of this website: Design Board Template .


A small site plan is required and should indicate the size and placement of renewable energy sources. Highlight any energy efficiency strategies or systems shown. Indicate the parcel boundaries, and include a north arrow. See Site Information.


The floor plan should depict the typical interior conditions of a 1 bedroom housing unit. The floor plan should include basic furniture placement to demonstrate livability.


The section should illustrate principles of passive design and envelope construction that would contribute to the buildings’ highly efficient performance. The section should call out daylighting strategies, natural ventilation, air flows, specific materials choices, etc. In addition, highlight the energy efficient aspects of the mechanical and lighting systems.


The perspective drawing should convey the “big idea” of your design. Special attention should be paid to how the design addresses security and integration of the childcare facility.


The narrative should clearly outline and summarize your project’s context and goals. The narrative should be no more than 250 words.


1. Mixed-Use Building The design must incorporate community and support spaces on the ground floor and the residential units above. The development should encompass approximately 418,200 gsf, of which 398,700 gsf is housing and 19,500 gsf is community and support space. 18,000 gsf of indoor child care space and 1,500 sf for UCSF police may be included.

2. Height Limits + Bulk The buildings’ heights would range from up to 55 feet along Mission Bay Boulevard South, up to 85 feet along Sixth Street and Nelson Rising Lane and up to 120 feet along Fifth Street, and would be designed to minimize shading on open space areas. In accordance with the Mission Bay Campus Master Plan and Design Guidelines, development along Mission Bay Boulevard South would include a 30-foot step-back from the property line above 55 feet and a 110-foot step-back above 90 feet.

3. Unit Count The estimated total number of units is 523, but more units are better as they bring in more revenue. At least 774 beds should be present.

4. Unit Mix Average unit size and approximate unit mix:

  • Studio: 350 sf (33%)
  • 1 BR: 500 sf (38%)
  • 2 BR: 650 sf (24%)
  • 3 BR: 950 sf (5%)

The unit size is more open to variation than the unit mix. If more units are added, the mix should stay about the same.

In addition to the residential units, each floor should have one or two study spaces that can accommodate 6 people. Ideally, each floor would also have a laundry area with approximately one washer and dryer per 25 beds. Laundry can also be consolidated to one or more areas per building. These units are to be heated but not air conditioned. They should not have balconies.

5. Ground floor

  • Centralized lobby with restricted access to elevators, public restrooms, a lactation room, and social spaces
  • Offices: 6 private offices of at least 70 sf, 2 meeting rooms
  • Reception area (staffed by 2) and security desk
  • Tenant mailboxes, Amazon lockers, and a package receiving and distribution area. Vendors, UCSP, Fed Ex, UPS, etc. are constantly in and out of our offices all day and the package room requires a fuul time employee to coordinate it.
  • Children’s play areas: ~500 sf indoors, enclosed play area outdoors
  • If the child care center is included
    • 18,000 gsf of indoor area
    • 15,000 sf of dedicated outdoor play yard
  • Meeting room to accommodate 50 with an attached community kitchen
  • Separate Game room/TV Lounge
  • Sound proofed music practice room/piano
  • Conference room to accommodate 26 around one conference table
  • Storage for at least 125 bikes indoors and 100 outdoors
  • Loading/unloading parking area for Tenants – about 8-10 spaces
  • Retail space on first floor accessible from the exterior
  • Maintenance shop – storage (~600 sf), work/office space (2 offices @ 70 sf and cubby space for 3), break/training room (~400 sf)
  • 1,500 sf for UCSF police [optional]

Ground floor spaces should be air conditioned as well as heated.


All documentation for Task 2 must be submitted as an 8.5′′ x 11′′ PDF document. All sections are required. Please clearly state which section corresponds with the appropriate answer within your documentation, by following the numbering format as established below.


Using the worksheet below, calculate the window-to-wall ratio for each facade and the total building for each building. Include the worksheet and calculations as part of the Energy Performance Documentation submittal. This should be calculated for each building proposed.

2A. Window to Wall Ratio Worksheet


Using the worksheet below, describe the design approach taken to regulate incoming light and heat from the sun. Include the worksheet and the requested diagrams of window shading on the south and west facades as part of the Energy Performance Documentation submittal. This should be submitted for each building proposed.

2B. Window Openings and Window Shading Worksheet


For one of the proposed buildings, include a section diagram through an exterior wall of a residential unit that shows the point of connection between the roof and a vertical wall, a typical window head and sill, and the condition at a typical floor level. This section should demonstrate the design strategies and details used to reduce thermal bridging and air leakage and to control bulk water flow. Include a scale on the diagram.

Provide a brief description of the insulation R-values used in the walls and roof. Include a description of other strategies used to reduce heat loss and air leakage. On the section diagram, note which building is being shown.


As part of the Task 2 Energy Performance Documentation submittal, for each proposed building, provide annual energy use broken down by major end uses such as HVAC, lighting, domestic hot water, appliances, and miscellaneous electric loads. Please include the table below to summarize your calculations. Describe any measures taken to controls systems such as lighting and plug loads.

Design Load*  

Calculated Energy Use

HVAC ---------------
Lighting W/sf
Appliances and Plug Loads W/sf
Domestic Hot Water   gal/per/day
TOTAL ---------------

*Note your modeling assumption and its source.

Freely available tools for annual energy simulations can be found under the Tools section. These tools are accessible to a wide range of technical backgrounds, however, successful teams in the past have combined engineering and design team members to provide a thorough submission.


As part of the Task 2 Energy Performance Documentation submittal, for each proposed building, include a high-level whole building diagram depicting the major components of the HVAC system or systems serving the ground floor commercial space, the residential units, and common space (any space in the residential facility that serves a function in support of the residential part of the building that is not part of a dwelling unit, such as corridors, community rooms, mechanical rooms, and staff offices). All the spaces are heated, but only the ground floor is cooled. The HVAC system may include traditional mechanical system, emerging technologies, passive systems, or a hybrid of passive and active systems.


As part of the Task 2 Energy Performance Documentation submittal, include a simple diagrammatic sketch of a typical 1 bedroom residential unit showing: 1) how the space is heated, ventilated, and cooled (without AC); 2) how water is heated and delivered to the unit; and 3) the design of the electric lighting in the unit (not provided later by the tenants). The sketch should show the location of equipment and how hot air and water will be distributed. Provide a brief (1 page or less) written description of the approach to space heating, ventilation, and water heating of the residential units. Describe your approach to cooling the residential units and common spaces without AC. Describe the types of systems used (such as a gas-fired boiler that heats water and distributes it to radiators in residential units) and any energy efficient strategies or equipment metrics. Note any major differences in the approach between the buildings.


For each building, list all solar electric and solar thermal system types included, assumptions about performance metrics, and the square footage for each in a summary table. Also include any other renewable systems (such as building integrated wind).

For each building, calculate the total annual energy production of each renewable energy system included in your design and shown on the annotated site plan. List the energy production of each and the total energy production at the building site in the summary table. Include the calculations in part of the Task 2 Energy Performance Documentation submittal. If the renewable systems are shaded at different times of day or year, this will affect total energy production and should be incorporated into the calculations.

Does your design reach ZNE performance? Provide a brief (2 pages) description of how close the project site gets to ZNE and any major reasons why it does or does not. You may include the results of whole building energy models – be sure to include a description of the software used and any major assumptions, as well as which building is modeled.


Based on the conclusions of a study conducted by ARUP for California investor-owned utilities, The Technical Feasibility of Zero Net Energy Buildings in California, for a site in San Francisco (California Climate Zone 3), currently feasible design strategies and technologies can reduce energy demand to:

Highrise multifamily—19.6 kBtu/sf/year (ref., page 85)
Lowrise multifamily—16.3 kBtu/sf/year (p.75)
Childcare—22.0 kBtu/sf/year (p. 118)
Medium office—17.2 kBtu/sf/year (ref. p. 92)


Provide a brief description of aspects of each building design, if any, that are intended to influence the behavior of residents to reduce energy demand.

EUI is a unit of measurement that describes a building’s energy use. EUI represents the energy consumed by a building relative to its size. A building’s EUI is calculated by taking the total energy consumed in one year (measured in kBtu) and dividing it by the total floor space of the building. For example, if a 50,000-square-foot school consumed 7,500,000 kBtu of energy last year, its EUI would be 150 kBtu. A similarly sized school that consumed 9,000,000 kBtu of energy last year would have a higher EUI (180) to reflect its higher energy use. Generally, a low EUI signifies a more energy efficient building. Certain building types will always use more energy than others. For example, an elementary school uses relatively little energy compared to a hospital. An energy efficient hospital would likely have a higher EUI than a school with average energy performance. Source