Students from UNT to take part in National Race to Zero Student Design Competition

Students from UNT to take part in National Race to Zero Student Design Competition

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The University of North Texas is one of 40 teams, and the only university from Texas, that will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE)’s Race to Zero Student Design Competition at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO, April 22-23. The teams represent 34 schools across the United States, Canada, Norway and China.

The Race to Zero is an annual competition, open to students and faculty from any interested collegiate institution. The competition is based on a real-world scenario where a builder needs to update an existing product line (house plan) to a high-performance house design or is developing a new high-performance home product line. Teams are presented a specific design problem and are asked to either redesign an existing floor plan or create a new house design that satisfies the project requirements. The mandatory performance target is the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home specification.

The goals of the competition are to:
- Inspire and develop the next generation of building science professionals;
- Advance and enhance building science curriculum in universities; and
- Complement the experiential learning benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon through an additional collegiate competition opportunity.

UNT’s team is made up of six students from the university’s Association of Construction Engineering Technology, a student chapter of the Dallas Builders Association: Bobbie M. Daniels, Michael Garza, Dawson Guerrettaz, Ester Valero, Jacob Flores and Juan Lopez.

The team is one of 10 competing in the Urban Single Family category. This category has specific design constraints that include a maximum floor plan of 2,500 sq ft and a maximum lot of 5,000 sq ft. Students also had to define a specific location, neighborhood characteristics, relationship to the surrounding homes and included a 3D model of the house.

Michael Garza is the secretary for UNT’s Association of Construction Engineering Technology and the team leader.

“The Race to Zero competition has been a great learning experience for our team and really helped us understand how every process from team organization to material selection and innovation needs to be properly planned,” said Garza. “Our team could not have accomplished all of the tasks that were given to us by the competition coordinators without the help of our Industry Advisers. Our advisers took the time to explain in detail how a process would work or how different products would help us reach a high efficiency house. We've worked hard as a team making sure our data for this competition can be fully explained and clearly defined for the panel of judges. The team is very excited to have been selected in the top 10 of our category and are ready to present in Golden, CO.”

Dallas BA First Vice President Alan Hoffmann of Hoffmann Homes is a key industry partner on the project. After the team spoke at a Dallas BA board meeting and requested the assistance of a builder, Alan reached out. The plan used in the team’s submitted design is a home Hoffmann completed in Dallas last fall. With the use of his standard design specification, the team was able to detail the home’s systems and perform analysis on the energy efficiency of the home.

Hoffman says he is “very excited about the recognition they have received and look forward to their continued success at the competition.”

Invited teams will present their solutions to industry leaders at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, compare their efforts with other teams, listen to presentations by industry professionals and learn about clean-energy careers.