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Student Design Showcase – Nomad House

November 5, 2015



This competition challenged college students to become part of a new leadership movement to achieve truly sustainable homes, by designing net-zero energy homes. By definition, these high-performance homes are so energy efficient that renewable power can offset all or most annual energy consumption. This competition will help to provide the next generation of architects, engineers, construction managers, and entrepreneurs with skills and experience to start careers in clean energy and generate creative solutions to real-world problems.

–U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, Student Design Competition Guide to Project Preparation and Submittal


• Cassandra Jules
• Nikita Kumar
• Jessica Leblond


• Prefabricated modular design and construction.
• Easily adaptable to urban and rural sites.
• Minimal site intervention through the use of point footings.
• Flexible – it can be single-family or a duplex.
• Passive solar design through orientation, window locations and shading.
• Natural passive ventilation by the use of stack effect.
• The rainscreen wall allows for various exterior finishes and a unique, individual appearance for each project.
• High-performance building envelope—well insulated and air tight, with high-performance windows.
• Active strategies (solar panels, radiant floor heating, energy recovery ventilator, air source heat pump).


Cassandra Jules

Working on this project was fun and challenging, it took a lot of trial and error to determine which strategies would better comply with the project and the requirements associated with the competition.

I learned a lot in both a social and educational sense. Social because as a group we all had to agree on certain strategies that everyone would be willing to apply to the project. Educational because I learned a lot more about prefabrication and the importance of a tight air barrier to have an energy-efficient home.

The best experiences were a combination of designing the actual home according to the site and the client and figuring out the technical aspects of the project to determine if they were feasible.

I learned that prefabrication is an ideal method for construction. It’s faster and takes place in a controlled environment. From a technical point of view, I learned that it was very important to have every detail of the opening and any connection or joint of the home accounted for, to ensure that the home can operate to its full capacity by being energy efficient.

Nikita Kumar

Working on this project was no less than a rollercoaster ride of knowledge, where various aspects of a net-zero house were brought together by prefabricated modules. Prefabrication, as we know, is taking the world by storm through its various advantages, bringing considerable benefits for the owners, contractors and the environment.

A collaborative effort on getting to the crux of a prefabricated and net-zero building type made us aware of many details about how the entire system works integrally with minimalist, sustainable and healthy ideas, concluding with a very efficient house. The details of prefabrication were well researched in order to get the finest points of construction right. Prefabrication can be done with a variety of rain screen wall concepts. We realized that the factory-made and assembled panels not only can save time on site but can also be easily dismantled, so the house could be shifted to a different location. This increases the adaptability and flexibility of our house.

Jessica Leblond

With my passion for green architecture, the prospect of participating in a competition which promotes sustainability was, for me, an opportunity to be part of what is going to be the next generation of housing. Prefabricated architecture is at the forefront of anongoing paradigm shift in the industry.

I realized through the competition how the integration of innovative methods is easier than people believe. Prefabrication is a strategy that has numerous advantages, and challenges can always be resolved. I realized through our project that even blown-in cellulose insulation could be well integrated following a high-efficiency and environmentally friendly envelope, in a compact design.