This international open competition calls for designing a mixed-use building or compound of buildings that includes residential units, retail space, and a public library, all tied into the power grid. The main design challenge here is meeting the contest’s zero net energy requirements, which means the energy use of the building and its occupants must be either less than or equal to the energy produced (over the course of a year) by on-site renewable generation. The approximately 8-acre competition site—the former location of a 100-year-old Sherwin Williams paint factory—is in Emeryville, Calif., and it currently is undergoing a brownfield remediation. The design also must accommodate the extension of an adjacent greenway that includes a two-lane bike/pedestrian path with at least 20 feet of parkland around it. One existing building (shown as the first image in the accompanying slideshow) has been deemed “architecturally significant” and must be incorporated into the design. The site borders railroad tracks as well as a revitalized historic city center with the city hall building, a proposed performing arts center, and the greenway. Competition entries must be received by AIA San Francisco by 1 p.m. p.s.t. on Nov. 29.

Hosted by the AIA San Francisco and supported by the PG&E Zero Net Energy Pilot Program, the contest organizers aim to educate people about net-zero design and construction. The state of California aspires to have all new construction be net-zero projects by 2030. To spread the word about the advantages and benefits of this type of design and building, all Architecture at Zero entries will be part of a touring exhibition that will travel across the state throughout 2012. A total of $25,000 will be divided among the winners, who will be announced on Dec. 7 at Emeryville City Hall.

Jury members include longtime green design advocate and practitioner, Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, co-founder and principal of Brooks + Scarpa Architects, Los Angeles; sustainable design and planning expert Bob Berkebile, FAIA, principal at Kansas City, Mo.-based BNIM; Allison Williams, FAIA, LEED AP, design director of Perkins + Will, San Francisco; building technologies program head Stephen Selkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.; and Susan Szenasy, editor-in-chief, Metropolis magazine.

Learn more about the competition and its entry requirements.