SKYShades of Southern California Partners with California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) and NewSchool of Architecture to Create Sustainable Design Competition

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Design competition allows architecture students to develop commercial carport structure model highlighting tension membrane and thin-film, organic photovoltaic (PV) technologies.

When Diego Villamizar, Principal at SKYShades of Southern California, approached NewSchool of Architecture and Design students to create a tension membrane model, the discussion marked the beginning of a collaborative effort to introduce local architecture students to sustainable design initiatives.

SKYShades of Southern California, in partnership with the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), will host the inaugural sustainable tensile architecture design competition, which highlights the use of 3rd generation, thin-film, organic photovoltaic (PV) solar technology.

CCSE is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting change for a clean energy future. CCSE provides the community with objective information, research, analysis and long-term planning on energy issues and technologies and offers a wide variety of rebate programs and free services to facilitate the adoption of clean energy practices. CCSE agreed to participate in the design competition to publicize green-minded designs that allow local residents and businesses to better understand the emerging solar technologies currently available.

Ashley Watkins, Program Manager Energy Resource Center at CCSE states, “This design competition is a special way for CCSE to showcase the great sustainable design work of our local architecture students and to help educate the community on cutting-edge solar technology.” It is estimated that 3rd generation PV’s will achieve much higher efficiencies and lower costs than 1st or 2nd generation silicon-based solar technologies. Organic PV panels are also 100% recyclable and biodegradable and, hence, are truly green.

“This design competition is an incredible way for us to learn more about tensile architecture and sustainable technologies,” comments Lauren Pasion, NewSchool Architecture and Design AIAS Chapter President. “We do not get this type of in-depth exposure to tension membrane structures and technologies in school. There is definitely some buzz going around campus regarding this design opportunity.”

Not only has the tensile design competition piqued the interest of students at NewSchool Architecture and Design, but also of students at other San Diego architecture universities. Mr. Villamizar states, “Just this week, I met with professors for the newly created Architecture Program at the University of San Diego and with students from Woodbury University School of Architecture who both had contacted me to learn more about upcoming design competitions. There is great interest in the architectural community to better understand the benefits of tension membrane structures, the types of applications and the sustainability initiatives using Organic Photovoltaic Panel (OPV) Systems.”

Students will be competing to have their model displayed in the CCSE Energy Resource Center technology showroom, among other great prizes. The winning model will be unveiled in a judging ceremony on December 11, 2009 at CCSE.

About SKYShades of Southern California (SoCal):
Founded in Australia and recognized as a world leader in creating tension-membrane shade fabric structures, San Diego-based SKYShades of Southern California is committed to skin cancer prevention and clean green energy initiatives. SKYShades' visually attractive structures create an identity and offer an inviting, less expensive alternative to brick and mortar shading in applications from resorts, playgrounds and schools to malls and recreation spaces. SKYShades also offers exclusive SOLAR ROOFING FABRICS through its Integrated Building Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) Systems.

SKYShades SoCal is a proud member of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). For more information, visit:

About the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE):
The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that helps residents, businesses and public agencies save energy, reduce grid demand and generate their own power through a variety of rebate, technical assistance and education programs. To learn more about CCSE, visit:

About NewSchool of Architecture and Design:
NewSchool of Architecture and Design, founded in 1980, is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). ACICS is a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. NewSchool offers bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Digital Media Arts, a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management, and a Master of Landscape Architecture. For more information, visit:


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Diego Villamizar
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