Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to technical questions will be posted here as they come in.
Q: How much energy calculation do I need to do? I am worried that I need an engineer to help me with the technical side of the competition.
A: While we encourage entrants to work with students or professionals in other disciplines, entrants are certainly not required to have the help of engineers when designing their projects. We suggest that entrants challenge themselves to do as much calculation as possible, but recognize that the level of comfort with energy modeling and performance documentation will vary greatly from entrant to entrant.
Q: I am no longer a full-time student, but graduated this year and am currently unemployed. Can I still enter?
A: Yes, as long as you have proof that you were a full-time student within or after the 2012 calendar year.
Q: I can’t find the instructions for submitting my files. How do I submit my entry?
A: The submittal instructions will be included in the “Event Details” section of your order confirmation from Eventbrite. If you can’t find this email or are having trouble finding the directions, email us and we’ll send them your way.
Q: I want to enter the competition as part of a team. Is this allowed? How do I indicate this in my entry?
A: You are allowed and encouraged to enter as a team. Please indicate the names of your team members in the appropriate field when registering on Eventbrite. You must also include all project collaborators in your Design Team Spreadsheet. All collaborators will be credited in the case of an award.
Q: I am working on a ZNE project in my hometown. Can I submit this project?
A: No, all entries must address the competition brief and be specific to the TNDC site.
Q: I’m wondering if it is okay to make a concept plan that stretches over the boundaries of the site?
A: Please limit the concept plans to the defined competition site.
Q: There are clearly defined street grids and sites which are program specific, including street-defined parcels. Is the alteration or moving of roads, parcels and program elements restricted?
A: Yes. You will be unable to alter or move any roads, parcels, or other program elements. Please refer to the Technical Requirements page, which says “All building and program element placement should be based on the specific land use plan provided.”
Q: If we proposed a known quantity of renewables, how can we find out the watts per gross square foot (Watts/gsf), and watts per gross square foot (Watts/gsf)?
A: You may need to do some calculation to figure this out. We can only point you in the direction of useful information. In this competition, Watts/gsf is used to describe the performance targets (max demand, annual electric use, max therms, etc.) for competition buildings. Gross square feet is similar to gross square meters. While there are innumerable square footage measurements (rentable space, interior, occupiable space) this one is easy: measure to the outside walls of the buildings, i.e. the building’s footprint.
There are a number of PV production calculation tools online that you could use. On the “Online Tools” page, you will find a list of and links to a number of free modeling and design tools. One of these tools is the PVWatts Grid Data Calculator, which estimates annual energy production for solar PV based on typical weather data for an area. It gives the results in kWh, and you can subsequently get results as hourly performance data. You could also download and use the System Advisor Model tool listed on the competition site.
Q: Can you please explain therms per hour per gross square foot (Th/hr/gsf), and therms per year per gross square foot (Th/yr/gsf):
A: Therms are a unit of heat energy (look online for more details) typically used to measure natural gas usage.
1 Therm (EC) ≡ 100,000 BTU
= 105,506,000 joules
≈ 29.3072222 kWh.
Therms per hour per gross square foot is the unit for Max Therms, so that is the maximum demand for heat energy over an hour per gross square foot for that building. Therms per year per gross square foot is the total demand for heat energy for the whole year per gross square foot for that building.
Q: What is Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) and how is it calculated?
A: You can find a lot of information about green building terms online. The first result on Google for “solar heat gain coefficient” is an excellent resource – http://www.efficientwindows.org/shgc.cfm. This site gives a definition of SHGC and additional resources on implications of different SHGC values. Typically this value is given by the window manufacturer or, in the case of site built fenestration, calculated.
Q: On the Technical Requirements page and Assumptions for Task 1, are the buffer zones meant to incorporate the spectator seating?
A: Yes, the buffer zones are meant to house the spectator seating.
Q: Is there a DWG file for the site plan?
A: No, the PDF files of the site plans, found on the Site Information page, are fully downloadable into CAD program.
Q: During registration, there was a section about work information. I want to attend to this competition as an individual but it seems that I should provide some work information. (Company name, address, … ). Could you please let me know how can I attend to this competition as an individual designer?
A: Simply fill in the required fields as if you are the company, et cetera. This information is for registration purposes only.
Q: As a faculty member at a university, we are planning to have student teams register in the student category. How should these faculty or academic consultants be recognized with the competition entry?
A: Faculty members or others in the academic community assisting student teams should be listed as consultants to the project, rather than as teammates.
Q: Is the graphic of the board layout an example or is it required to follow the exact layout shown, including title block ?
A: You are required to follow the board layout graphic when formatting your submissions. This includes all text featured on the graphic example as well.
Q: Is there a topographic map of the site available to entrants?
A: There is not a topographic map available; however, for the purposes of this competition, please assume that the site is flat.
Q: Can we institute new programmatic possibilities within the project, addressing the lack of open space or recreational public space in the Tenderloin neighborhood. Can I share my project to locals and residents specifying a particular kind of support, such as social assistance?
A: No, we do ask that you adhere to the program outlines and criteria; however, we do encourage you to figure out creative ways to work in as much open space as possible if this is an important goal of your project. Essentially, as long as you meet the stated program requirements and stick to the parameters of the site map, you can add to the program. One way to achieve more open space is to design the units as small as allowable so as to maximize the open space.
Q: Regarding your board layout, is there wiggle room for adjustment?
A: You must adhere to the established board layout; however, if you would like to add an additional drawing or rendering to a specific section of the competition board (and it is specific in nature to the corresponding section), you may do so.
Q: Are the proportions of all units (studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom) to be calculated according to the number of units total in my project design?
A: Yes. You may deviate from the estimated total of units (150) by 5%, resulting in in a 143-158 range of total units. Within this range, you must ensure that you have calculated the appropriate percentage of studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom units.
Q: By registering for the competition will I receive additional information needed to complete the requirements of the competition?
A: No. All necessary information to complete the competition requirements can be found on the website pages.
Q: There are area requirements for unit sizes and amenity areas but there doesn’t seem to be any for the grocery store. Is the area of the grocery story left up to designer discretion?
A: Yes. The only requirement for the grocery store is that the ceiling height meet City requirements of measuring at least 14′ high.
Q: Please clarify the following statement on the Technical Requirements page under (2) Height Limits + Bulk:
“Above this height the building may not exceed a continuous dimension of more than 110′ in length of 125′ on the diagonal.”
A: This means that any “bulk” of the façade in excess of those dimensions needs to be varied (not a large flat expanse). The building needs to have some articulation and differing volumes facing the street to better blend with the prevailing character of the neighborhood.