The Race to Zero was an annual competition, open to students and faculty from any interested collegiate institution. The competition was 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 presented a specific design problem and were asked to either redesign an existing floor plan or create a new building design that satisfies the project requirements.


The competition challenged 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

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

Details on the 2018 competition requirements were 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 were provided to participants: