The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), based in Greenfield, Mass., is trying to encourage architects, designers, builders, and homeowners throughout the northeast region to construct highly efficient, self-reliant buildings that generate as much energy as they consume, as well as inspire occupants to live in them thoughtfully and efficiently. To this end, NESEA created the Zero Net Energy Building Award and bestowed the award in 2009 and in 2010 on two homes that exemplify net-zero performance and sustainable living.

Project entries for the 2011 Zero Net Energy Building Award program will be accepted through Dec. 15, 2010. The competition is open to any occupied net-zero energy building (of any type) located in New England, as well as in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. The building that documents net-zero energy use for a full year while continuously occupied and provides a high level of comfort, affordability, and reliability for its occupants without requiring idiosyncratic behaviors to meet energy usage goals. A jury of noted industry experts will evaluate each entry based on its energy usage and production, replicability, level of idiosyncrasy, overall design, and aesthetic appeal.

The winning project will be selected by a panel of green building and renewable energy industry experts and will receive a $10,000 cash prize. The winner will be announced during the BuildingEnergy Conference and Trade Show in March 2011.

NESEA's 2011 awards judging panel will include Larry Sherwood of renewable energy consultancy Sherwood Associates; architect Michael H. Nicklas, principal of Innovative Design; and Richard Perez, research professor/senior research associate, SUNY Atmospheric Sciences Research Center.

For complete details on entering the 2011 Zero Net Energy Building Awards, visit www.nesea.org/inspirationawards/zeroenergy/guidelines/.