The 13th Annual North American Passive House Conference

(From left to right: Shannon Bryant, Cynthia Suarez-Harris, Ledell Thomas, Shannen Martin, Kennia Lopez, Shelly Pottorf)

In April of 2018, a Race to Zero design team from Prairie View A&M University’s School of Architecture, nicknamed “The Mod Squad”, took home the First Place Prize in the Urban Single-Family Housing Contest and the Grand Prize in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Race to Zero Student Design Competition held in Golden, Colorado with their Fly Flat Design. The Fly Flat is a modular housing design that responds to current needs for resilient and affordable housing. The net zero, affordable infill housing design addresses sociological and ecological justice issues using a regenerative design framework.

Recently, the Mod Squad presented their winning design at the closing keynote speech for the North American Passive House Conference (NAPHC) in Boston, Massachusetts. NAPHC is the leading passive building conference for climate-specific zero energy design, construction, and building science expertise. Assistant Professor of Architecture, Shelly Pottorf set the stage for team members Shannen Martin, Cynthia Suarez-Harris, Ledell Thomas, and Kennia Lopez to speak about the project. The Mod Squad delivered an inspiring and innovative presentation to an audience of 300+ industry experts including architects, builders, and energy modelers, from across North America.

Timothy McDonald, President and CEO of the architecture firm Onion Flats commented, “The closing keynote speakers were a group of students and their teacher from Prairie View A&M…Without exaggeration, they just delivered the most thoughtful and inspiring presentation on this project, and how its mission seamlessly linked to their personal lives. This is not just about architecture but about the intersection of everything that architecture is supposed to do in society. They literally brought the house to tears and to their feet. I was so inspired by this project, these students, their teacher and their story.”

The team and their design have continued to take home top honors by earning a Texas Society of Architects Studio Design Award and by winning the City of Houston Complete the Community Housing Competition. Following their success, the team has been asked to speak at several architecture firms in addition to both national and local conferences. Pottorf, Suarez-Harris and Thomas are going to speak at the Energy & Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) 2018 High Performance Home Summit in San Diego in October.

The Prairie View A&M Race to Zero team’s sights are set on securing a spot in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Competition in the Local Build Challenge. If selected, the PVAMU School of Architecture team would pursue finalizing the design and building it in a local community.

Race to Zero Team Roster: Shannen Martin, Cynthia Suarez-Harris, Ledell Thomas, Kennia Lopez, Aaron Farray, Noah Perkins, Reuben Cheeks, Kristin Clark, Shelby Skinner, Kaylah Wesley, Shelly Pottorf, Assistant Professor, April Ward, Assistant Professor, Shannon Bryant, Design-Build Specialist