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Sustainability & Resilience

The Sustainability and Resilience Jury reviews and evaluates team deliverables and the model home.


This entry had one of the most holistic and comprehensive approaches to sustainability and resilience on campus. There was a high level of construction details backed up by solid modeling and analysis.

  • Heavy design analysis related engineering and design of use
  • LCA, Daylight studies
  • Carbon-neutral hemp wool cellulose insulation
  • Went through International Living Future Institute (ILFI) red list and incorporated red list free products to help reduce toxic chemicals in the home
  • Drought-tolerant plants, organic edible gardens with California native plants
  • Lower embodied carbon insulation by using hemp wool
  • Greywater system – leapfrog grey water
  • Solar with battery back-up
  • Exterior wood cladding is not as fire-resistant as alternatives (i.e., concrete, steel)
  • Daylight and views without proper shading (e.g., south-facing kitchen window) may compromise overall energy efficiency

High marks on resource, conservation, and upcycling. The combination of energyefficient home with ease of construction, ultra-insulation, and water-efficiency made this home sustainable. The use of upcycled paper into acoustic tiles and decorations was creative.

  • Upcycling of campus paper and reclaimed materials were appreciated
  • Incorporating green wall/lattice on outside of home helps with energy efficiency, air quality, and biophilia
  • Ultra high R values of 24 for wall and R for 48 ceiling are highly energy-efficient
  • Hydraloop greywater recycling system is a plus
  • 250 gallons of rainwater harvesting is small but appreciated
  • Using the concrete board as a siding is a resilient approach – non-flammable
  • Self-contained water and electricity system (solar with back-up battery), so if there was an earthquake, could probably survive
  • SIPs panels were presented as zero VOC – this is not the case
  • Could benefit from rainscreen construction, air sealing, energy recovery vents, and solar tubes
  • Additional due diligence necessary to determine solar capacity in relationship to demand (i.e., net-zero)

There was an interesting concept for a work-life co-habitat, and we appreciate the influences of Indian vernacular architecture. However, execution was not present for us to truly to make judgments on the sustainability and resilience of the house.

  • Conceptually an energy-efficient modular home with lattice sun shade
  • No one to explain to us, was unfinished, could not tell what was supposed to be sustainable
  • No greywater and rainwater systems
  • Having rooms in separate units and taking up space is not sustainable and energy-efficient. The ratio of enclosed volume to surface area is not ideal – adds to difficulty of keeping spaces warm or cool. Much more surface area, so more heating and cooling needed
  • Dark asphalt roof does not contribute to alleviating the heat island effect

Community-driven mission statement combined with a holistic sustainable approach sets this entry apart. Overall, extremely impressive and well-integrated building with great execution, attention to detail, research, and documentation. Inclusion of passive-house strategies, including air-tightness, ERV, continuous insulation, and natural daylighting makes it the strongest contender.

  • Amount of analysis related to daylight, acoustics, indoor air quality, and energy are admirable
  • Connected to the world and community
  • Tightly sealed building envelope combined with Energy Recovery Ventilation
  • One of the few entries that used solar hot water and the only team with solar tubes!
  • A net-zero home with 16 solar panels + battery system, which can help them to be off-grid
  • R-values for walls and roof are very impressive
  • Rapidly renewable cork can be harvested without cutting down trees
  • Greywater system and rainwater harvesting
  • ¼ inch plumbing, which is unusual and interesting and can potentially increase water efficiency and reduces material consumption
  • White roof coating cooling and cost-effective
  • Flexibility and versatility of space allows more usage of the space and promotes community resiliency
  • Could have considered blown-in cellulose which is more eco-friendly or other carbon-neutral alternatives
  • RECOMMENDATION: true rain screen construction would make home more resilient and energy-efficient

Innovative wall construction based on research with lightweight, low embodied concrete enclosure system with a high R value. Off-site construction built under factory conditions minimizes construction waste and expedites build time.

  • Fiber glass with sheer connector prevents heat loss
  • Fan-coil unit instead of a mini-split; heat exchanger that uses different technology resilient in terms of fire: 3-4 hours burn time
  • Highest rating for resiliency related to earthquakes, wildfire, and wind
  • High energy efficiency with R value of 24 for walls
  • Farm to table food system
  • Monitoring sensors for vertical garden
  • Rainwater harvesting tanks
  • Concrete flooring instead of vinyl plank
  • Fiber glass connector instead of steel
  • Concept wasn’t fully executed
  • Incomplete documentation does not capture the range of technology used
  • No solar battery backup

High-end modern design home that is both comprehensive and innovative, packing a lot of sustainable features into a compact housing unit.

  • FrameCAD can be rapidly deployed on-site with minimal waste due to custom manufactured structural elements
  • Steel is one of the field construction materials that can be recycled and has approximately 98% recycled content
  • HEPA filter and ERV system
  • R values of 27 on the wall and 53 on the roof make it highly energy efficient
  • Recycled plastic cabinets
  • Underfloor heating and cooling
  • State-of-the-art solar water heater
  • Team is commended for including extensive flashing details in construction documents
  • Water conservation strategies and measures such as rainwater capture and greywater irrigation were not prioritized. For example, a laundry-to-landscape or a rainwater capture system could have been considered

Interesting concept of an easily transportable foldout house, but lacking in resilient constructability techniques and sustainability features.

  • Steel frame has end-of-life recyclability
  • Has potential for ease of deployment for emergency shelter
  • Project brief was not present, so we were not able to refer back to them for the concept
  • Construction does not seem likely to withstand the test of time.
  • Questioning whether it meets Title 24 Part 6 California Energy Code
  • Building envelope was not sealed and was porous, some gaps present
  • Poorly insulated walls with thermal bridging issues
  • Gas stove does not contribute to sustainability and resilience

Highly creative concept of putting a house inside a greenhouse yields a scrappy, resourceful, and unique concept home with a broad range of custom design sustainable features. We especially appreciated the attention to water conservation through biological greywater treatment and rainwater harvesting and energy generation through cutting edge PV technologies.

  • We appreciate the biophilia
  • Net zero solar with battery back-up – fully off-grid; bifacial and Soliculture panels
  • Second-hand and repurposed furniture; appreciated upcycled and recycled materials and resources, including the container-style home, which reduces carbon footprints
  • Greatest reuse of materials among all teams
  • Internet connection using satellite technology
  • Greenhouse roof provides good surface for rainwater capture
  • Evapotranspiration from greenhouse plants will create cooler micro-climate
  • Project would benefit from additional consideration around R value – air tightness and energy conservation.
  • Innovative and experimental water filtration technologies may require further proof of concept
  • Recommended strategy would be to consider incorporating a composting toilet

Sustainability science is a relatively new discipline that focuses on interactions between humans, the environment, and engineered systems. The three main pillars of sustainability are environmental (the planet), social (people), and economic (prosperity). For this competition, sustainability emphasizes the design and construction of homes that meet today’s needs while recognizing the limitations of the physical, social, and natural resources currently available; in other words, without compromising the needs of future generations. Meeting today’s needs, as referenced here, includes the use of renewable energy, natural resources, and resiliency. This contest evaluates how well the model home’s design, systems, and components attain maximum reduction of negative environmental impact in all phases, including manufacturing, construction, use, and eventual decommissioning.

A jury of qualified professionals will assign an overall score for sustainability, long-term durability, and resilience. The jury will consider the team deliverables and perform an onsite evaluation of the model home. The jury will consider the following criteria:

Sustainable Energy and Resources
  1. How well does the team address issues pertaining to sustainability for the target market segment?
  2. To what extent does the building integrate sustainable strategies, reduce lifecycle impacts, and enable the reclamation and reuse of water?
  3. To what extent does the team consider the building’s lifecycle, such as the impact of materials extraction, manufacturing, transportation, construction, use, and end-of-life decommissioning of the building?
  4. How effective is the team’s capacity to influence consumer behavior in its delivery of key concepts related to sustainable design and construction?

Resilience, an important aspect of sustainability, is the ability of a building to be prepared for, absorb, recover from, and successfully adapt to adverse events it may encounter. Faced with unpredictable challenges such as climate change, forest fires, drought, earthquakes, environmental degradation, and health pandemics, teams must demonstrate how their homes address these challenges as resilient buildings. The jury will evaluate the home’s ability to provide indoor and outdoor fire warnings and protection, and to safely withstand and recover from natural disasters by maintaining critical operations during power disruptions that commonly occur and immediately after those events. The jury will consider the following criteria:

  1. How well does the team address issues pertaining to resilience for the target market?
  2. Do fire protection alarms work effectively? Do surveillance monitoring sensors and equipment work as designed?
  3. To what level do design details, materials selection, and construction practices ensure durability?
  4. How effective is the model home at providing occupants with critical survival capabilities during periods of extended power outages and water shortages?

In addition to and separate from the score assigned to each team for the Sustainability and Resilience Contest, the jury will assign a score for innovation. This score will become one-fifth of the total score for the Innovation Contest. The jury will consider the following questions:

  1. What unique elements or aspects of sustainability and resilience reflect noteworthy innovation?
  2. To what extent does the team apply innovative strategies to reduce negative environmental impacts during the acquisition, assembly, and decommissioning of basic house components?

Salem Afeworki

Leigh Jerrard

Greg Kight