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Sustainable Design Experience: The Race to Zero Competition

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Design II

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Sara Gusmao Brissi Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Sara Gusmão Brissi is a Ph.D. student in the School of Construction Management Technology at Purdue University, main campus. She has an MBA in Environmental Management and Technologies and BArch, both from the University of Sao Paulo (USP), in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has about 20 years of experience working as an architect, design coordinator, and design manager in architectures offices, construction, and real estate development companies in Brazil. Her research interests include modular construction, lean construction, BIM, sustainable construction and collaboration in construction.

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Luciana Debs Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Luciana Debs, is an Assistant Professor of Construction Management in the School Construction Management Technology at Purdue University. She received her PhD from Purdue University Main Campus. Her previous degrees include a MS from the Technical Research Institute of Sao Paulo (IPT-SP), and BArch from the University of São Paulo (USP), in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Prior to her current position she worked in design coordination in construction and real estate development companies in Brazil. Her research interests include team work and collaboration in construction, effective communication in spatial problem solving, and design - field team interaction.

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Mariana Watanabe Purdue University

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Mariana Watanabe is an undergraduate in Civil Engineering specializing in Architectural Engineering at Purdue University, main Campus. During her time at Purdue, she has done research in the Applied Energy Laboratory for the “Biowall for Improved Indoor Air Quality” project, has participated as team captain in two DOE Net-Zero Energy Building Design Competitions (Race to Zero Competition), and was elected president of the ASHRAE Purdue Student Branch in 2017. Mariana’s interests span the fields of sustainable engineering, high performance buildings and STEM outreach for girls.

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The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry has become more complex, requiring changes in both design and construction processes and demanding more collaboration among all the stakeholders. Four concepts and processes are carrying out an important role in order to manage this increased complexity: building information modeling (BIM), integrated project delivery (IPD), lean construction (LC), and sustainable construction. These processes and concepts are benefiting the AEC industry, but they also pose a challenge for the industry as they require a high degree of teamworking collaboration in a highly fragmented industry. Enhancing collaboration in the AEC industry highly depends on changes on the education of AEC professionals to provide an educational venue for students to experience collaborative learning and develop the required professional culture and skills. The best way for AEC education institutions to promote students’ professional identity is disseminating cross-disciplinary collaborative courses, projects, assignments and even competitions that simulates real-word experiences. By using [removed for blind review] Team’s experience in the 2018 RTZ competition as a case study, this paper provides insight into the interdisciplinary collaboration experience of designing a zero-energy building (ZEB) and identifies perceived benefits and challenges for the students engaged in the competition. Complementing the report of the team's experience at the 2018 RTZ, this study emphasizes the importance of teamwork collaboration in the present context of the AEC industry while drawing upon concepts of sustainable construction. The work on the competition lasted for 6 months during the 2017-18 academic year, and students’ skills to work collaboratively were tested through this experience. The study encompasses data collected from three methods: a survey with all the 8 students, interviews with the faculty leader and the student team leader, and the reflections of two of the authors of this paper based on their own experiences and observations as participants in the 2018 RTZ competition team. Three categories emerged from the data and background literature analyzed: teamwork, education and knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA). Teamwork category cluster the following themes: (a) teamwork quality (TWQ), (b) teamwork in sustainable construction. Education category cluster the following themes: (a) interdisciplinary teamwork in the university, (b) student competitions benefits and challenges. KSA category cluster the following themes: (a) experience in the field, (b) skills required for interdisciplinary teamwork, (c) KSA benefits and challenges. In terms of teamwork, participants acknowledged their overall performance as good. As for education, all the participants emphasized the great learning opportunity presented by student competitions, but they also commented on some challenges resulting of it. Half of them evaluated that their courses do not encourage interdisciplinary collaborative work. Regarding KSA, all the students affirmed they felt prepared to engage in the 2018 Race to Zero competition. Considering KSA benefits and challenges, most of the participants acknowledged the improvement of their personal KSA because of their participation in competition.

Gusmao Brissi, S., & Debs, L., & Watanabe, M. (2019, June), Sustainable Design Experience: The Race to Zero Competition Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33331

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