Mithun & PAE's Estuary Design wins Honor Award at 2015 Architecture at Zero

Mithun and PAE’s Estuary design won the prestigious Honor Award, the highest award available, at the 2015 Architecture at Zero, Net Zero Energy Design Competition.

Created in response to the Zero Net Energy targets set by the California Public Utility Commission, which includes the goal that all new residential construction in California be Zero Net Energy by 2020, the Architecture at Zero competition seeks creative and feasible approaches to Net Zero Energy buildings. While the projects designed will not actually be built, the competition encourages innovative design solutions to site-specific design challenges, and aims to broaden thinking about the technical and aesthetic possibilities of Zero Net Energy projects. The site for this year’s competition was Block 15 of the University of California’s San Francisco campus.

The winning Estuary design encompasses three family-style residential housing facilities. It combines passive strategies with a high performance building envelope and renewable energy systems to achieve Net Zero Energy. PAE’s design included ground source heat exchange, a biogas direct fuelcell plant to recycle energy and heat from compost, rainwater reclamation, and a photovoltaic array. Abundant natural ventilation and daylighting provide additional energy savings and create outstanding indoor environmental quality for occupants.

In addition to high performing systems, Estuary’s energy use also depends on positive engagement with residents. The project is designed to inspire stewardship and action with spaces that encourage and reward reduced resource use. Occupant engagement strategies such as solar clothes drying, activated key cards which must be engaged to power anything besides a unit’s refrigerator, and an active stair culture, further drive down the energy use intensity (EUI) of the buildings. Residents are rewarded with monthly energy budget and rent incentives for being the top energy savers.

Engineering design services were provided by PAE’s Principal Allan Montpellier, and Building Performance Specialist David Mead.

Learn more about Architecture at Zero.