Race to Zero Competition Details and Requirements

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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 (building plan) to a high-performance building design or is developing a new high-performance building product line. Teams are presented a specific design problem and are asked to either redesign an existing floor plan or create a new building design that satisfies the project requirements.


The competition challenges collegiate teams to apply sound building science principles to create cost-effective, market-ready designs that meet the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home specification and Advanced Energy Design Guide For K–12 School Buildings–Achieving a Zero Energy Building.

Competition Requirements

Each team must be sponsored by a collegiate institution, comprise at least three students and a faculty advisor, and have a designated team lead. Student teams are encouraged to be multidisciplinary and have industry advisors, such as local builders, to help inform their decision-making process.

Details on the 2018 competition requirements are published in the 2018 Student Design Competition Guide. Teams can also view the 2017 Results page2016 Results page2015 Results page, or 2014 Results page to see previous project profiles.

Building Science Curriculum Resources

In addition to the DOE Building Science Training webinars available upon completion of the team application, the following resources are provided to participants:

Contact Us

For questions about the Race to Zero Student Design Competition, contact racetozero@nrel.gov.