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DLR Group's 'Zero Heroes' Win ASHRAE's 2022 NetZero Design Competition

SANTA FE, NM — DLR Group’s integrated design team won first place in the 2022 LowDown Showdown, an annual competition held by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) that invites teams to model a new net-zero building and achieve exemplary building performance. They shared their design plans at the 2022 Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild co-organized by ASHRAE and the United States regional affiliate of the International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA-USA).

The competition centered around the design of a new K-5 elementary school for 450 students that includes educational spaces, office spaces, support spaces, indoor common spaces, and indoor and outdoor physical activity spaces.

DLR Group's team of 12 employee-owners, aka the Zero Heroes, began with the design requirements of zero carbon, water-efficient, adaptable, and durable, and delivered a winning design that met or exceeded all the requirements. ASHRAE’s evaluation criteria included demonstrating how low-energy and low-carbon, indoor environmental quality, water conservation, and innovation in design was achieved.

The team exceeded the minimum competition parameters by optimizing the building program to reduce the total area needed, thereby saving 3 percent on embodied carbon before even beginning to optimize the operational carbon.

The integrated design team analyzed loads and HVAC sizing; passive systems optimization; computational fluid dynamics to enhance outdoor environments and optimize indoor thermal comfort; energy simulation to reduce utility costs; climate analysis to match the best strategies to the building; daylight simulation; solar studies; and calculation of operational carbon and embodied carbon. The building is forecast to become carbon neutral within 10 years and contribute to the greening of the New Mexico power grid.

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DLR Group is an integrated design firm providing architecture, engineering, planning, interior design, and building optimization across the United States, China, the Middle East, and Eastern Africa. Core areas of design expertise include civic, courts, energy services, higher education, hospitality, justice, K-12 education, mixed-use, sports, and workplace.

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