Once again, high school students from across the United States put their ARCHICAD knowledge to work competing in an annual National LEED Dream Home contest, sponsored by Arizona based STEM curriculum developer, the CAD Academy.

The CAD Academy®, a secondary and post-secondary engineering and architectural program designed to inspire a new generation of engineers and architects at a price educators can afford provides instructors throughout the United States a way to give students an opportunity to get hands-on experience with BIM software, namely ARCHICAD. The contest requires participants to comply with LEED requirements while designing their project in ARCHICAD, software provided by GRAPHISOFT.

“This program has a long-standing relationship using ARCHICAD for a reason. The software is so intuitive for the students. It allows them to produce a walk-through, create a rendering or drop in a jpeg file easily. The process of using the software maintains their freedom to design, dig deeper and accomplish more. Everything they need to create a LEED certified home is there within one box of software.”

ArchiCAD studen winner

Design by 2015 winner Davis Quist.

CAD Academy president Stephanie Kvamme says this type of training serves the students well in career pursuits in architecture or engineering. Using ARCHICAD software the students can create their idea of an ideal home that is uniquely designed and incorporates sustainable and energy efficient options.

“I am consistently impressed with the creativity and innovation demonstrated through the contest entries. It shows me how well the participants use their knowledge of BIM, through ARCHICAD to design well, with sustainability in mind. Most of the participants are intent on pursuing architecture as a career, so it is wonderful to see the creativity they apply and know that one day they’ll bring that to the industry. Based on the entries, any of the students, in my opinion, could conceivably find work in the field right out of high school.”

Hamilton High School instructor, Steve Spkystra, recognizes the importance of this type of contest, in that it stresses sustainability and environmentally responsible design. Spykstra says many of his students choose to focus on sustainability as they continue their educational careers in architecture at the college level. “Last year, I had four seniors accepted into the School of Architecture at ASU. They will all focus on sustainability.”

The accomplishments at the end of the contest are significant in that students have to make important decisions about materials, layout and design all within a two to three week period. Kvamme says the array of impressive real-world possibilities being dreamed up belie the age of the contest participants.

“Sometimes I have to remind myself that the submissions are being made by young people in high school. Our students show their capacity to create sophisticated design at an impressive level.”

ArchiCAD Student Winner

Design by 2015 winner Davis Quist.

As in past years, students from around the country take part, which means the projects can be located in a wide range of climates. Whether setting up a dream home within their own communities or taking on more severe weather or extreme conditions, the participants look for ways to reduce their footprint, take advantage of natural resources and reduce air pollution.

Congratulations Davis Quist

For the second time a student from Alpine School District won the LEED Dream Home Contest. This year the judges chose the design by Davis Quist, taught by Ed Sanderson. The judges determined that Quist met all the contest criteria and demonstrated outstanding LEED design innovations.

Quist set his goals high for his design, conforming to the Merriam Webster definition of “green” – “tending to preserve environmental quality by being recyclable, biodegradable, or non-polluting” for his home. He chose to locate the home near Puget Sound in Seattle, WA in order to take advantage of coastal breezes, harvest rainfall and capitalize on a nearby river’s energy with a water wheel.

The home also includes six wind turbines that rotate 360 degrees – so they can be producing energy day and night. Excess energy harnessed by the turbines at night when energy use is low will be stored for use at a later time. It features solar windows throughout that convert natural and artificial light into energy and a slightly pitched grass roof that provides insulation and an underground cistern to capture water run-off.

Design by 2015 Runner-up Merik Smith.

Design by 2015 Runner-up Merik Smith.

Congratulations Merik Smith

Second place winner, Merik Smith, took inspiration from a water mill to design his dream home and paid special attention to the advantages of building in coastal Oregon. In his essay, a component of the contest requirements, Smith writes, “I located the house conveniently in Oregon near the coast where it rains constantly and the rivers don’t usually freeze. Because it rains a lot in Oregon, I designed a gutter system that feeds to water to a cleaning tank that purifies the water to be used in showers, toilets, and other low water fixtures. I placed my house in a forest so that none of the forest landscape was disturbed, so I don’t have to use any energy or resources to water any plants because nature does it for me.”

Designed by 2015 Runner-up Merik.

Designed by 2015 Runner-up Merik Smith

Smith designed his home with ample windows to take advantage of day lighting and save on lighting costs. He specified an R-60 fiberglass insulation in the roof, Eco-Concrete for the foundation, made with a photo catalytic substance that reduces nitrogen oxide in the air, making it healthier to breathe. Smith’s home features flooring made with energy harvesting tiles made by Pavegen©. Each tile harvests the kinetic energy from footsteps to create electricity stored in a battery that can be used to power the lights or to charge a phone.

The CAD Academy reported the highest participation levels ever in the history of the contest. You can watch an overview of the top three finishers on YouTube.

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