Challenge: Design a Passive House for New Orleans

Our goal is straightforward: to achieve a dramatic reduction in the climate-change-causing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the Building Sector by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed and constructed.
Architecture 2030

The research from Architecture 2030 and the EIA has shown both the building industry and general public some staggering numbers; building operations for residential, commercial and industrial structures use 77% of ALL the electricity produced in the USA, not to mention 49% of energy consumption.

Just some additional numbers to take into consideration: transportation accounted for 33.5% of CO2 emissions and the industry field within the USA 19.6%.  Even more of a concern is the building sector’s 46.9% reading.

Architecture 2030 has changed the way we look at buildings. Recognizing that the building sector is BOTH the problem and the solution Design By Many has media partnered with ArchDaily to issue the following Challenge: Design a Passive House for New Orleans, sponsored by HP.

Adhering to the Passive House Standard, the challenge is focusing on a single-family housing design solution for communities in .  Entries must provide a well balanced concept of sustainability including minimal impact on the local environment, affordable to heat and cool, and affordable to build and purchase.

Open to both students and professionals, Challenge: Design a Passive House for New Orleans is combining a lot of key components: The Passive House Standard, 2030 Challenge which has influenced the Better Buildings Initiative issued by President Obama, and the 2011 AIA Convention New Orleans, to name a few.

Prizes include an HP Designjet T2300 PostScript eMFP (nearly $10,000 value), a feature on DesignReform on the first day of the AIA National Convention in New Orleans (May 12th), AND the winner will also receive a feature on ArchDaily.

We are looking forward to seeing your design solutions!

Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, LA
Typical lot in the Lower Ninth Ward. Please see the provided site model

Design a low-cost, extremely low-energy home for New Orleans
Homes should meet post-Katrina building codes, guidelines and best practices
Homes should be shotgun typology and strive to create cohesive neighborhoods
Design should strive to achieve Passive House Standard:
Airtight building shell ≤ 0.6 ACH @ 50 pascal pressure (simple, well-detailed construction)
Annual heat requirement ≤ 15 kWh/m2/year (4.75 kBtu/sf/yr)
Primary Energy ≤ 120 kWh/m2/year (38.1 kBtu/sf/yr)
Designs should demonstrate that affordable and sustainable homes can also be beautiful

Provided Materials
Key Passive House metrics spreadsheet
Building site. Orientation may be changed (.dwg, .3dw, .rvt)

Precedent & Sources
Saft Residence
Duplex House for Make It Right / GRAFT
Brad Pitt’s Make It Right presents duplex homes for NOLA
Hotlinks, duplex house for Make It Right / Atelier Hitoshi Abe
Alligator / buildingstudio

Post design model and documentation (3d and/or 2d)
Post Key Passive House metrics spreadsheet
Post images
Post diagrams explaining approach (optional)
Post video explaining approach (optional)

DesignByMany Community – The top 10 entries based on user votes will be seen by the judges. User votes will be counted for a week after the submission deadline.

Submission: Sunday May 1st at 11:59 PM
User Voting: Sunday May 8th at 11:59 PM

*The winner of this HP-sponsored challenge will take home an HP Designjet T2300 PostScript eMFP, the world’s first web-connected printer with scan, print and copy functionality. A nearly $10,000 value, the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP helps simplify the printing process while letting teams print on the go and share files more easily than ever before.
*The winner of this challenge will be featured on DesignReform on the first day of the AIA National Convention in New Orleans, May 12th
*The winner will also receive a feature on ArchDaily

Further resources and information can be found here.

Cite: "Challenge: Design a Passive House for New Orleans" 06 Apr 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • David Fano

    Thanks for the ReTweets all. Please let us know if you have any feedback.

  • Gantonski

    I cant seem to find the links to the resources for this. The ones on DBM arent all working.


    • David Fano

      do you mean the source files? The should be under all the text as links.

  • marcel

    the provided materials don’t work

    • David Fano

      All of them? Which files in particular? Thanks

      • marcel

        none of them work for me, when i click, it takes me to a new page saying page requested not found, not sure if anybody else has the same issue

      • David Fano

        Yikes! it was a bug. fixing it ASAP. Apologies, Thanks!

      • David Fano

        It’t fixed. Make sure you right click and select “Save file as” let me know if you have any issues.


  • rebecca

    is there a registration date or fee? or just submission deadline?

    • David Fano

      No fee. here are the deadlines

      Submission: Sunday May 1st at 11:59 PM
      User Voting: Sunday May 8th at 11:59 PM



  • rob decosmo

    a few questions:

    1. who owns the designs once they are submitted?

    2. is there any criteria for a maximum annual cooling energy use value? When you look at Passivhaus standards, they specify a limit of 15 kWh per square meter. Was the cooling energy use level left out for a particular reason?

    3. how is ‘Affordability’ going to be measured? Do you have a specific construction cost target in mind?

    4. registration information / fees / etc…

    Thanks for initiating the contest! There are lots of designers down here in NOLA are are anxious to submit a design.

  • rob decosmo

    3 questions:
    1. How is affordability defined? is there a particular construction price point that the designs are supposed to meet?
    2. does a maximum annual cooling energy use limit need to be met? Down here in NOLA cooling the house is going to use way more energy that heating it. Passivhaus would normally require this, but it seems to be absent from the brief
    3. who “owns” the designs when they are done? I’m assuming ArchDaily and whoever else can use the entries with permission, but each designer should hold a copyright over his/her work.

    sounds like a great competition! can’t wait to see the results.

  • Josh

    Where will we submit our documents? And do we need to submit our entire Revit model?

  • David Fano

    All the models are posted on the site. Part of the requirement is to submit your source files so the community has the ability to open them and learn from them. Here is an example from a previous challenge

  • Andy

    What are the dimensions/setbacks for the site. The .dwg file imported as 3’4″ x 8’8″ site dimensions.

  • David Fano

    Hey Andy,

    I’ll fix the model and re-post today.