Winners of PG&E-Sponsored Design Competition Celebrate Energy Efficiency and Affordability

By Jonathan Marshall

Living in Flux, designed by Cal Poly student Victor Bao, won the student competition.

San Francisco-based leaders in energy and architecture today (Nov. 8) celebrated the creative ideas and innovative designs produced by students and professionals for this year’s Architecture at Zero Competition.

The event, sponsored by PG&E and the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIASF), challenged competitors to design a 150-unit, mixed-used apartment building in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin neighborhood  – and to make it as affordable and low in net energy consumption as possible.

One of the special challenges this year was to reuse waste heat from a ground-floor grocery store to heat rooms and water in the living units.

The annual competition promotes innovation and wider awareness of “zero net energy” (ZNE) building designs, which combine a high degree of energy efficiency with onsite renewable generation to minimize their power draw from the electric grid. Last year’s competition solicited ZNE designs for new buildings on the campus of the University of California at Merced. The winners, selected by a panel of international experts, split a total of $25,000 in prizes.

PG&E's Steve Malnight said the competition highlighted how zero net energy design could benefit affordable housing. (Photo by Brittany McKannay.)

“This is an exciting opportunity to showcase the benefits of combining zero net energy design with multi-family, affordable housing, which maximizes savings for building tenants and operators,” said Steve Malnight, vice president of customer energy solutions for PG&E. “It is an honor to partner with AIA San Francisco for the third year in a row to recognize these innovative, affordable housing designs.”

Malnight spoke at today’s event where winners were announced. Winning entries included:

  • Merit Award – Student Entry. Living in Flux by Victor Bao from California Polytechnic State University.
  • Merit Award. Catalyst SF by Joseph King, Lillian Park, Tony Vasquez and Laurence Booth (Booth Hansen)
  • Merit Award. Prime Cut by  Stephan Rutz, Jesse Honsa, Kate Gannon, Karl Sippel, Bruno Keller, Christian Schoch, Heinz Simmler, Andreas Gianoli and Roland Ryser (Rutz Architects)
  • Citation Award. NZ+ Beyond Net Zero Energy by Drew Adams, Joseph Yau and Mark Alocilja.

NZ+ Beyond Net Zero Energy earned a citation award.

  • Special Recognition Award. Folium by Karim Hammad, Robert Herman, Susie Coliver, Stephen Doherty, Jonas Weber, Emma Ramoy, Michael Hummel, Ryan Potvin and David Malman (Herman Coliver Locus Architecture, EBS Consultants, Architecural Lighting Design).
  • Special Recognition Award. Tetris Block by Duane B. Carter, Mike Stopka, Simon Mance, Scott Farbman, Courtney Brower.

The non-profit Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, which collaborated on the competition, welcomed its focus on making housing more affordable. “The impact in low-income communities is immediate,” said Executive Director Don Falk when the competition was announced in May. “Saving a dollar or two a day may not seem like a lot to a moderate-income household, but it makes all the difference for a family struggling to make ends meet in the Tenderloin.”

PG&E has worked consistently to broaden public awareness of the ZNE philosophy. PG&E supported creation of the nation’s largest ZNE community, the West Village project in Davis. A year ago the utility began holding classes on state-of-the-art, energy-efficient building practices in a new ZNE classroom located at the Stockton Energy Training Center. The center now graduates hundreds of students a year from its special ZNE program, which is one of the largest of its kind in the country.

PG&E’s training programs and participation in the Architecture at Zero competition also support California’s long-term goal of making all new residential construction meet ZNE standards by 2020, followed by commercial buildings in 2030.

Email Jonathan Marshall at jonathan.marshall@pge.com.

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