2015 Blueprint for Functional Sustainability


*The Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition has been postponed to the 2015 academic year. The Alliance will update this page and communicate with eligible schools when the 2015 competition timeline is set.


The 2015 Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition, sponsored by the California Sustainability Alliance (Alliance), provides an applied learning experience in the principles of sustainability, integrated design, and social responsibility. Tomorrow’s green designers are the students of today; this competition calls on these leaders to innovate and share their designs for projects that envision better occupant environments and raise the bar on green building and development.

Competition Objectives:

  • Broaden green building education within the California higher education system.
  • Broaden cross-discipline collaboration between future leaders of the green building movement.
  • Highlight the efforts and initiative of students and emerging leaders in the green building movement.
  • Encourage a thorough appreciation of human needs, economic impacts and social responsibilities.
  • Encourage a focus on energy efficiency; passive design; thermal comfort; water efficiency and waste reduction; regenerative design and occupant behavior in the building industry.
  • Further the understanding of Zero Net Energy buildings.
  • Recognize and award students for their dedication, creativity, innovation and commitment to sustainable design.

Competition Challenge:

Competition teams will consider an existing building within Los Angeles and recommend plans for renovation to meet high levels of sustainability. The Alliance Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition is envisioned slightly differently than a standard sustainability competition. Yes, the ultimate goal is to recommend a full gut-rehab plan that meets strict sustainability metrics. Success, however, will be defined through the development of a sustainability plan that allows the building to better meet the needs of the occupants. The occupant should be considered as the central benefactor of all decisions and decisions should be contingent on the benefit that they convey to the occupant. Benefits include improved indoor environmental quality and ease of use/interaction with building systems.

The competition teams will be asked to submit a PowerPoint presentation, framed as a pitch to the building owner. The pitch should address why the team’s design modifications and ideas should be incorporated in the building. It is important for teams to incorporate a basic business element to this pitch such as a financial budget, payback period, project schedule or other real-world applicability metrics and tests.

Design Goals/Evaluation Criteria:

Competition teams will be judged in reference to two separate sets of criteria. Content criteria, which describe the areas of sustainability to be addressed by each team, are most heavily weighted, with 21 points available. Process categories focus on the communication strategies and ability to meet competition guidelines. There are only 5 points available in the process categories. A full competition judging rubric will be available to teams on Monday, October 20th, when all competition documents are available to teams. Until that time and to support teams in identifying the correct individuals, a list of the topics covered within the content criteria are provided. Content criteria will include reference to the following topics.

  • Occupant Behavior: the occupant is, for the purpose of this competition, considered the primary influencer/benefactor of all design decisions. The team should consider the impact of human behavior on all design decisions. Human behavior can significantly drive or hinder savings in energy water and waste.
  • Regenerative Design: regenerative or restorative buildings are designed and operated to have a net-positive impact on the environment by repairing the surrounding environment. Regenerative buildings should help to create a better environment and enhance the qualities of existing ecosystems.
  • Real-World Functionality: design solutions must be grounded in reality and should attempt to meet real-world demands for both usefulness and cost-effectiveness. The human needs of the occupant and the business needs of the building owner should be taken into account in relation to all design decisions.
  • Zero Net Energy: for the purpose of this competition, Zero Net Energy is defined as a building where the amount of energy produced on-site is greater than or equal to the amount of energy consumed by the building on an annual basis.
  • Zero Net Water: Zero Net Water is defined as a building where all water requirements are met by rainwater collection or recycled water sources, with zero ‘first time’ freshwater use. Building wastewater must also be recycled and treated without toxic chemicals.
  • Waste Reduction: waste reduction pertains to the process of reducing the amount of both organic and non-organic waste produced by the building and its occupants. Waste reduction refers to both limiting the collection of waste producing materials, such as reducing packaging materials and sustainably disposing of any waste materials collected, such as through composting.
  • Alternative Sustainability: alternative sustainability measures include methods of increasing sustainability beyond the specific categories called out in the other judging criteria. Topics covered in alternative sustainability could include choosing sustainable materials, reducing carbon footprint, reducing transportation needs of building occupants or any other areas of specific interest to the project team.

Competition Schedule:

The Alliance will update this webpage and communicate with eligible schools when the 2015 competition timeline is set.

Hosted By:

The California Sustainability Alliance, funded by Southern California Gas.