Northeast Sustainable Energy Association Announces 2014 Student Design Competition Winners

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Beautiful, sustainable building and renovation plan designers from regional colleges and universities celebrated at BuildingEnergy Conference.

This experience was incredibly educational for us, and we feel that our submission... reflects our overall design intention and proposes what we feel is a different way of looking at low-energy sustainable design. -- Mark Peterson, student participant

Winners have just been announced for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) Student Design Competition. This year, thanks to grants from the National Grid Foundation and the Barr Foundation, contenders are competing to create beautiful, sustainable buildings and renovations for Holyoke, Massachusetts, a former mill city at the base of Mount Tom, ripe for renaissance.

The challenge: cost-effective super-insulated and net-zero energy designs with high aesthetic value—meaning that these buildings are designed to produce at least as much energy as they consume.

Seventeen teams from nine colleges and universities in the Northeastern US and Canada competed in four different divisions: commercial renovation, commercial construction, residential renovation and residential construction. The winners from each division were:

Division I - New Residential Construction: Harvard University (Kanika Arora, Abhinay Sharma, Baha Sadreddin, Rohit Goyal)

Division II - New Commercial Construction: UMass Amherst (Nikki Perry, Nayef Mudawar, Grant Rocco, Matt Sutter)

Division III - Residential Renovation: Keene State College (Laken Thomas, Kimberly Pyszka, Ally Bedard, Moire Lawson)

Division IV - Commercial Renovation: Harvard University (Thomas Sherman, Saurabh Shrestha, Johannes Staudt)

Winners from each division won cash prizes and complimentary admissions to the BuildingEnergy Conference and Trade Show, in Boston, which afforded them an opportunity to present their designs to their peers, and to network with a well-established group of sustainable energy practitioners throughout the region.

“This experience was incredibly educational for us, and we feel that our submission... reflects our overall design intention and proposes what we feel is a different way of looking at low-energy sustainable design.” --Mark Peterson, student participant

“[This was] so much more collegial and collaborative than other such competitions.”
--Michelle Addington, Faculty Advisor

The judges for the competition represented a who’s who of architecture, sustainable building, and city planning. Included in the judging panel were:

Jonathan Knowles, Associate Professor of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design
David Madigan, Vice President, van Zelm Heywood & Shadford, Inc.
Maureen Mahle, Vice President and Director of SWA’s Sustainable Housing Services, Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
Erik Olsen, Managing Partner, Transsolar, Inc.
Paul Popinchalk, Facilities Energy Engineer, Mathworks
Bill Reed, Architect, Regenesis Group, Inc.
Aaron Vega, MA State Representative and Chairman of the Holyoke City Council Redevelopment Committee

The Student Design Competition was made possible by generous grants from both the National Grid Foundation and the Barr Foundation. “This particular project represents the perfect blending of our shared mission and focus as it allows us to support both education and environmental stewardship,” said Carmen Fields, National Grid Foundation Board Member. “What better outcome than to help encourage students to become change agents who learn how to plan the energy future of our communities.”



Formed in 1976, the mission of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association ( is to advance the adoption of sustainable energy practices in the built environment. NESEA does this by connecting professionals to each other and to information. This organization facilitates collective learning between all of the professional disciplines that contribute to the built environment. NESEA serves architects, planners, engineers, manufacturers, builders and policy analysts in public and private companies in the 10 northeastern states.

About the National Grid Foundation

The National Grid Foundation was created to enhance the quality of life across its grant making territory. The Foundation’s ongoing challenge is to create opportunities for solutions to educational and environmental issues. Its objective is based on the principle that giving people the tools to build hope is an essential ingredient in the development of individuals, families and communities. Since its inception in December of 1998, the Foundation has provided more than $17 million in grants to hundreds of organizations.

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Janet Lowry
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