Multidisciplinary Team Competes in National Race to Zero Competition

Jun. 03, 2016
RaceToZero 2016

Brian Cheek, Casey Kuntz, Hunter Morris and Ethan Keller

A team of students from three colleges at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently competed in Race to Zero, a national design competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The team included eight undergraduate and graduate students: Brian Cheek, Ethan Keller and Casey Kuntz from the College of Architecture and Design; Christopher Harpending, Jeremy Miller, Stephen Morris and Rachel Whitaker from the College of Engineering; and Shaheen Shaik from the Haslam College of Business.

The team was led by Mark Dekay, a professor of architecture, Bill Miller, professor emeritus in the department of civil and environmental engineering and Tom Boehm, a professor of finance.

Teams were challenged to provide solutions to real-world issues in the nation’s housing industry by using Zero Energy Ready Home performance levels. Last fall, the students collaborated with the City of Asheville and Mountain Housing Opportunities in North Carolina, to develop a plan for urban, multifamily housing that is both energy efficient and affordable.

After submitting a concept paper entry, the students were notified of their selection to compete in the national competition in Golden, Colorado.

Invited teams presented their solutions to industry leaders at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, compared their efforts with other teams, listened to presentations by industry professionals and learned about clean-energy careers.

“Our team had the most complex design with the most number of units for multifamily housing of any team,” said DeKay. “I am proud of their architectural solution and of their professional quality presentation. While everyone likes to win, the purpose of the experience-learning competition is primarily about learning to design the high-performance buildings required of today’s architects. In doing so, architects do their part to solve the climate crisis by design. These students will never look at buildings the same again.”

The UT team didn’t place but were told by the judges their design was one of the best.

Collegiate institutions that participate in the competition are recognized by Race to Zero as producing job-ready young professionals with cutting-edge skills.