The Race to Zero Student Design Competition (Race to Zero) inspires collegiate students to become the next generation of building science professionals through a design challenge for zero energy ready homes. Each of the four Race to Zero contests is judged by a panel of jurors, and the first place winner in each category presents their project to a grand jury, which then selects a grand winner. Learn more about the individual jurors by contest below, or learn how the jurors evaluate projects in the Race to Zero Student Design Competition Guide

Grand Jurors

Chris Benedict

Chris Benedict, R.A., is a Passive House pioneer who provides architectural services for commercial and residential buildings. Chris’ unique understanding of buildings and mechanical systems allows her to rethink and invent elegant holistic solutions to building design.  Her firm specializes in buildings that are healthy, durable and energy efficient, and built for the same price as typical construction.  Her work has shown the world what is possible and has had international influence. 



C.R. Herro

C.R. Herro is Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Meritage Homes, a large-volume national home builder. C.R. leads their Energy and Innovation Program, which combines design, energy efficiency, water management, sustainability, and new technologies to establish a new standard in home building that provides better comfort and healthier air and also costs less to own and operate.  In the last five years, Meritage has received numerous awards, including the EnergyValue Housing Award, Best Green Building Program Award, NAHB Builder of the Year, and is the four-time winner of the EPA's ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year-Sustained Excellence Award, which recognizes ongoing industry leadership.

Tom Kenney

As vice president at Home Innovation Research Labs and a professional engineer, Tom Kenney provides a stewardship role for Home Innovation’s consulting services, third-party product testing and certification programs, and for its ANSI-accredited consensus standard development service. During Tom’s 30-year tenure, he has focused on consulting services for government agencies, trade associations, manufacturers, and large national home builders that assist them with adapting to emerging issues, removing barriers to market adoption, and improving quality of the built environment. 


Peter Pfeiffer

Peter Pfeiffer is an Architect & Building Scientist who was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects for his achievements in mainstreaming green building in America over the past three decades. He is a principal and founding partner of Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture in Austin, Texas. Residential Architect has cited him as one of the 10 most influential architects of the past decade.




Suburban Single-Family Detached House

Brian Christensen

Brian Christensen has more than 20 years of engineering experience. Specializing in residential projects, he is involved in performance testing, engineering support, and project management to support energy efficiency, comfort, and sustainability. He has been a HERS Rater since 2000, and is a LEED® for Homes™ Green Rater and Quality Assurance Designee. More recently, his responsibilities have shifted to full time development and technical support for REM/Rate™ — the most widely used RESNET Home Energy Rating System software in the United States.


David Moody

A graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Construction Science and Management, David has worked in the construction industry for 12 years in multiple fields, including heavy civil, light industrial, and commercial. David is currently working for Risinger Homes, a high performance building and remodeling company that specializes in architect-driven work. It strives to build the best homes in Austin and focus on efficient, healthy, and durable construction.


Brian Oman

Brian Oman has been with BASF since 2007 and is currently a Senior Application Specialist with BASF’s polyurethane spray foam (SPF) business.  While he has worked in several groups within BASF, including sales and marketing, his current role focuses on the application and development of SPF systems for the residential and commercial markets as well as managing the BASF Technical Training Center (TTC).  Brian holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota’s Housing Program with an emphasis in Housing Technology, and he worked in residential construction as a project manager prior to coming to BASF. 

Brian’s education and hands-on experience aids him with his daily responsibilities, which include providing technical support and professional training on spray foam products and application guidance for both residential and commercial construction.  Brian is LEED AP and a SPFA-certified Field Examiner under their Professional Certification Program.

Thomas Simpson

Thomas currently works as a Building Information Specialist at StreetScapeUSA, a Development company in the Greater Chicago Area. He has a Master of Architecture from Hampton University and a Master of Integrated Design & Construction from Auburn University. With experience working in construction, engineering, and architecture, he now uses his expertise to focus on innovative residential design solutions and building information modeling.


Urban Single-Family Detached House

Gene Myers

Gene is owner and CEO of Thrive Home Builders (formerly New Town Builders), Denver’s leader in building green, energy efficient production homes. His company is also Denver’s largest builder of for-sale affordable housing.

Thrive Home Builders has been recognized as EPA’s Millennium Energy Star Builder, EPA’s Leadership Award for Indoor Air Quality, Green Building Magazine’s Green Home of the Year and the Department of Energy’s Grand Winner for Innovation in Housing for 2013, 2014, and 2015.


Rick Gazica

Mr. Gazica has over 12 years of experience in residential new construction. During his time with ICF International, he has launched five separate new home programs on behalf of utilities in Maryland and one in Pennsylvania. He is currently the Program Manager on three contracts and the Deputy Program Manager on three other new homes contracts. In addition to his work with utilities, he is also the task order manager of the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program for EPA. Prior to working with ICF, he worked at NVR as a project and costing manager in Virginia and Pennsylvania. While there, he was responsible for $20 million of projects on an annual basis.

Chip Henderson

John (Chip) Henderson, AIA, CEM, CxA, is an architect, a HERS Rater, a LEED for Homes Provider, a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), and a commissioning authority.  With over 25 years of design, construction, and forensic experience, Chip provides above-code program support, energy modeling, forensic investigations, commissioning, and building science consulting to residential and commercial project teams seeking a higher vision of building performance. Chip has guided more than 800 projects to successful LEED certification.

Leo Rainer

Leo Rainer is an engineer in the Building Technology and Urban Systems Division of the Energy Technologies Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He has more than 30 years of experience in building energy efficiency, including work on building simulation, monitoring, miscellaneous energy use, and codes and standards. Mr. Rainer is currently one of a small team responsible for the development and maintenance of the Home Energy Saver website.

Mr. Rainer earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Davis in 1981.

Attached Housing

Steve C. Brown

As a third generation lumberman and builder with over forty years of experience, Steve has been around the construction business most of his life.  He started building in the Dallas area in 1982, and in 1994 he changed the course of his construction business to build only extreme energy-efficient homes using structural insulated panels (SIPs) as the primary building enclosure.  He also helped pioneer many of the green techniques used today and has won many national housing awards over the years, most recently receiving DOE Housing Innovation Awards in 2014 and 2015.

In addition to being nationally recognized as an authority on green built, extreme energy-efficient homes, he also serves on the Board of Directors of Green Extreme Homes Community Development Corp. and Plano Housing Corporation (both 501c-3 Non-Profits).

Lance MacNevin

Lance MacNevin, P.Eng., is the Director of Engineering for the Building & Construction Division at the Plastics Pipe Institute. He has been in the plastic pipe industry since 1993 and has been involved with hydronic radiant heating and cooling applications, geothermal piping systems, plumbing, and fire protection. Lance worked with a manufacturer of PEX piping systems for 22 years as a product development engineer, system designer, and trainer. In 2015, he joined PPI after 15 years as a member. Lance has developed expertise in mechanical codes and piping standards and is a member of ASHRAE, ASME, ASPE, ASTM, AWWA, CSA, IAPMO, NEMA, RPA, and UL, serving on technical committees for most of these organizations. He lives in northern Virginia, outside Washington, D.C., with his wife and kids.

Mairi Mashburn

Mairi Mashburn received her Master of Architecture degree from the University of Colorado after first receiving her Bachelors of Science in Molecular Biology from Tufts University. She joined the OZ Architecture team in 1995 and is currently an Associate Principal. An active member in AIA, USGBC, and the Colorado Planning Association, Mairi’s work experience includes hospitality and resort, educational, and multi-and single-family residential projects.  Her completed project experience includes work in Copper Mountain, Panama City, Florida, and Jilin, China, and she is currently working on Snowmass Base Village. Mairi is a registered architect in the state of Colorado and is a LEED BD+C Accredited Professional. 

Cheryn Metzger

Cheryn Metzger works at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) where she supports the DOE Building Technologies Office and manages technology assessments in the PNNL Lab Homes. Recently, Cheryn has concentrated on program design, cost effectiveness optimization, and building science education. Cheryn is currently developing the Building Science Education Solution Center, which will provide professors with a quick way to navigate and download all the latest building science teaching materials. Cheryn is also a voting member for the Regional Technical Forum, which develops and evaluates incentive measures for utilities.

Small Multifamily

Laura Dwyer


Ms. Dwyer manages the DuPont™ Building Knowledge Center, a global network of experts who shape insights, tools, and resources to help members of the building industry navigate the changing future. Central to her role is harnessing the knowledge and skills of DuPont Building Innovations professionals to deliver enhanced value to customers by sharing best practices in building science and application knowledge. In addition to our own subject matter experts, we involve thought leaders from a wide array of external partners who collaborate with us to serve the industry.

Her areas of expertise include building science value and benefits, building envelope performance and impact on energy efficiency, sustainable market trends, industry impact of codes and standards, and the importance of durable structure design. 

Ozi Friedrich

Ozi Friedrich is a former librarian who took on a second career as an architect after an internship at the Arcosanti archives.

Ozi's work includes libraries, schools, adaptive reuse, and affordable housing.  He is currently project architect for the Kestrel sustainable development in Louisville, Colorado, with over 190 units of affordable housing designed with the potential to go 'fossil fuel free' using a combination of ground-source heat pumps and other sustainable strategies.

Brice Leconte

Brice is a lifelong entrepreneur with a passion for building socially active companies. He is the founder of iUnit, a real estate development technology company focusing on building energy-efficient smart modular housing.

Brice is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Maryland as well as an advisor and mentor at Georgetown University. He received his Masters in real estate development from Johns Hopkins University and his undergraduate degree from the Smith Business School at the University of Maryland. He is a frequent speaker and panelist and enjoys investing and mentoring early-stage startups.

Mark LaLiberte

Mark LaLiberte, a founding partner and President of Construction Instruction, devotes his time to educating the building industry about the benefits of constructing durable, energy-efficient, and healthy homes through lectures, video series, and publications. Mark speaks nationwide to more than 8,000 people annually. He received his Solar Engineering degree from the Red Wing Energy Education Center. As the founder of Building Knowledge, Mark wrote the content and managed the filming and editing of the industry's first building science video series, "Building Better Homes."