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Architecture at Zero

09 October 2014

Important Dates

Registration Closes: 31 October 2014
Submission Deadline: 31 October 2014
Winner Announcement: TBD
Award Ceremony: TBD


The Architecture at Zero competition, now in its fourth year, was conceived as a response to the zero net energy targets set out by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) in the 2008 report, California’s Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan. In this report, the CPUC set out four “Big Bold Energy Efficiency Strategies” for California that include the goals that all new residential construction in California be ZNE by 2020 and that all new commercial construction be ZNE by 2030.

Architecture at Zero 2014 is sponsored by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), as part of its program activities dedicated to furthering the knowledge-building and practice of ZNE building in California.

Architecture at Zero seeks creative and feasible approaches to ZNE building. By encouraging innovative design solutions to site-specific design challenges, the competition aims to broaden thinking about the technical and aesthetic possibilities of zero net energy projects. Further, it seeks to raise the profile of ZNE among built-environment professionals, students, and the general public in California and beyond.


This competition is open to students, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, engineers and designers anywhere in the world.


The competition site is comprised of two adjacent parcels, each to be developed as mixed-use housing over commercial.


Up to $25,000 in total prize money will be awarded to winners to students and professionals.


Submission deadline is October 31 at 1:00 pm PST. Please note that the Architecture at Zero competition uses an electronic registration process. If you are submitting multiple projects, you will need to register each project separately. See Submission Requirements for more information.


Download the Terms and Conditions here


Winners will be announced at a press conference in fall 2014.


All submissions shall become the property of PG&E, which reserves the right to exhibit and reproduce any of the submissions. By submitting a project, the entrant agrees to all Terms + Conditions outlined in the Architecture at Zero 2014 Terms + Conditions document. In any public use of the submissions, credit will be given to the design team. All submissions are final.


All questions about the competition will be recorded on the website with responses from the competition organizers. See the FAQs page for more information.


Entries are judged on a presentation board highlighting the project, and a Technical Addendum that provides a narration for energy performance documentation. A separate review board will convene to jury the Technical Addendum, which will result in a Technical Score provided to the Design Review Jury in early November. The final review held by the Design Review Jury will determine the winners from all submissions. The Technical Score and Technical Addendum are not the sole criterion on which entries will be judged, but act as a complement to the overall project design.

Entries are weighed individually, not in competition with others. Jury decisions will be based solely on the materials submitted. Criteria include quality of design, resolution of the program or idea, innovation, thoughtfulness, and technique.


Competition Planning Team

Peter Turnbull - Principal, Zero Net Energy Pilot Program, PG&E 

Margie O’Driscoll - Senior Program Manager 

Geraldine O’Brien - Principal 

Anna LaRue - Principal, Resource Refocus LLC (consultant to PG&E) 

Carrie Brown - Senior Technical Consultant, Resource Refocus LLC (consultant to PG&E)


Carlos Castellanos - Director Real Estate Development, EBALDC 

Jerry Jai, LEED A.P. - Senior Project Manager, EBALDC 

Jennifer Moxley - Senior Communications Manager, EBALDC 

Joshua Simon - Executive Director, EBALDC 

Ellen Hayes - Principal Communications Representative, PG&E 

Dean Kunesh - Senior Program Marketing Manager, PG&E 

Noelle Cole – Principal, Resource Refocus LLC


Photos taken by the competition planning team except where noted.

Official competition website