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Six of the ten Contests in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® 2020 Build Challenge relied on juries to determine results. Using objective and subjective measures to evaluate team projects, the jurors assigned points that determined each team’s score and standing in the Contests they evaluated, including:

The Solar Decathlon organizers select three jurors to award scores for each juried Contest. Renowned in their chosen fields of expertise, they bring professional excellence and practical in-the-field expertise. Learn more about the 2020 individual jurors by Contest below, or review the Build Challenge Rules to learn how the jurors evaluate projects.


headshot photo of Karma Sawyer

Karma Sawyer

Dr. Karma Sawyer is a leader in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) effort to develop clean energy and the electricity infrastructure to securely carry that energy to the nation. In January 2021, Dr. Sawyer joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as its director for the Electricity Infrastructure and Buildings Division. Dr. Sawyer arrived at PNNL from DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) where she served most recently as the office’s emerging technologies program manager. In this role, she executed multiyear R&D strategies across a range of building technologies, worked collaboratively with the national laboratories to advance cross-cutting initiatives, and created several of BTO's externally facing graduate student and postdoctoral fellowship programs. From 2010 to 2013, Dr. Sawyer served as an assistant program director and fellow for ARPA-E. She served as the subject matter expert and contributing author on studies and analysis that led to the creation and evaluation of carbon capture and thermal storage R&D programs. Dr. Sawyer earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2008. She also holds a B.S. in chemistry from Syracuse University.

headshot photo of Kipp Bradford

Kipp Bradford

Kipp Bradford is an entrepreneur, technology consultant, and educator with a passion for making things. He is the founder or co-founder of start-ups in the fields of transportation; consumer products; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning; and medical devices, and holds numerous patents for his inventions. Some of his more interesting projects have turned into kippkitts. Most recently, he was a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, hired as a result of the “Professor of Other” faculty search for an interdisciplinary scientist. His research merges biology, ecology, and thermodynamics to develop new ways to manage climates at every scale—from personal thermal comfort to global weather systems.

headshot photo of Hessam Taherian

Hessam Taherian

Hessam Taherian served as faculty advisor to two Solar Decathlon teams in 2009 (Team Canada, ranked fourth) and 2017 (Team Alabama, ranked fifth). He currently teaches design and thermal fluid courses at Penn State Harrisburg. Hessam has advised 3 individuals on their Ph.D. dissertations, and more than 25 students on their master's theses. He served on the Board of Governors of the Birmingham chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers for several years. He is a licensed professional engineer (PE) in Alabama and Pennsylvania. Hessam has co-authored several journal articles on ground-source heat pumps and distributed generation, among other topics.

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headshot photo of Derrick Morris

Derrick Morris

A strategic leader in affordable, energy-efficient homes, Derrick Morris has led building and development operations for organizations covering the entirety of the United States and 20 other countries. His past roles as director and vice president of construction technologies and innovation focused on leveraging technology to improve production efficiencies, as well as developing and promoting national training programs for construction management in affordable development. Currently building and developing in the Southeast, he holds a B.S. in construction management from Georgia Southern University and has been twice honored by the National Association of Home Builders for his innovative programs.

headshot photo of Nate McGhee

Nate McGhee

Nate merges a diverse background of estimating, consulting, and business development with the vantage points of a supplier, general contractor, and consultant. He understands the challenges and opportunities faced by each, making him well suited to serve both architects and owners throughout the design process. Nate holds degrees in architectural drafting/estimating and in business administration.

headshot photo of Simone Beaty

Simone Beaty

Simone Beaty is the director of affordable lending strategy and initiatives for Freddie Mac’s Single-Family business. She focuses on housing policy to support underserved markets, including rural housing, manufactured housing, shared equity, and energy efficiency of single-family properties.

Ms. Beaty has 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry. With Freddie Mac for 16 years, she was previously the director of servicing policy for 9 years, and her responsibilities included developing servicing policies related to loss mitigation. She was instrumental in developing Freddie Mac’s policy and implementation of the federal government's Home Affordable Modification Program, the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative, and the standardization of servicing requirements under the Servicing Alignment Initiative with the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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headshot photo of Allison Anderson

Allison Anderson

Allison Anderson is the principal architect at unabridged Architecture, a firm recognized for incorporating sustainability, adaptation, and resilience against climate challenges. Her work includes a wide variety of project types, from adaptive planning for cities in Rebuild by Design to helping clients consider the environment in every development decision. Allison completed her Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Southern California and her Master of Architecture at the University of Texas.

headshot photo of Ann Kosmal

Ann Kosmal

Ann Kosmal, F.A.I.A., is an architect for the Office of Federal High-Performance Buildings at the U.S. General Services Administration. Ann safeguards assets from the observed and expected changes in climate for prudent investment and risk management, and augments life safety, public safety, health, and security. She prompts design innovation and bolsters our nation’s global competitiveness in the emerging sector of climate security, which cannot be offshored or outsourced. Ann is a coauthor of the U. S. Fourth National Climate Assessment’s Built Environment chapter. She is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a certified passive house consultant, and a certified permaculture designer.

headshot photo of Jennifer Leisch

Jennifer Leisch

Dr. Jennifer Leisch is a climate and clean energy consultant who specializes in renewable energy integration and power system resilience. She spent close to a decade with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), working with developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through power system transformation. While at USAID, Jennifer launched the Resilient Energy Platform, enabling planning and implementation of resilient, low carbon energy systems. Prior to that, Dr. Leisch worked in clean tech R&D, focused on solar, renewable hydrogen, and fuel cell technologies, and holds a Ph.D. from the Colorado School of Mines.

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headshot photo of Maria Vargas

Maria Vargas

Maria T. Vargas is a senior program advisor and the director of the Better Buildings Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Through Better Buildings, DOE works with hundreds of leaders in the public and private sectors to make U.S. buildings at least 20 percent more efficient in the next decade. Hundreds of chief executive officers, university presidents, and state and local leaders are partnering with DOE, upgrading buildings across their portfolios, and sharing innovative solutions and strategies as models for others to follow. Ms. Vargas also serves as the lead DOE ambassador for the U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Initiative. Prior to her work at DOE, Ms. Vargas was the brand manager for the ENERGY STAR program for almost 20 years while at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has been involved in policy work on the issues of ozone depletion, global climate change, and related environmental and energy issues since 1985. Ms. Vargas was inducted in the Energy Efficiency Hall of Fame in 2014.

headshot photo of Chris Mathis

Chris Mathis

Chris Mathis has spent the past 38 years focusing on how buildings and building products perform—from energy efficiency to long term durability and sustainability. Chris received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He received a Master of Science in architecture studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his work centered on energy use in buildings. As president of MC2 Mathis Consulting Company, Chris and his team provide a variety of building science and strategic planning consulting services to both private and public sector clients. Chris is known as a powerful speaker who captures his audiences’ attention and excites their resolve to build better buildings. He now lives and works near the farm he grew up on in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina.

headshot photo of Sheri Koones

Sheri Koones

Sheri Koones is an author, speaker, and journalist who writes about home construction and energy efficiency. She has written nine books and has another book coming out next year on small houses. She is the recipient of multiple Robert Bruss Real Estate Book Awards.

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headshot photo of Alastair Reilly

Alastair Reilly

Alastair Reilly, AIA, LEED AP, is a design partner at William McDonough + Partners (WM+P). In this role, he leads design on WM+P’s most innovative sustainable projects, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Sustainability Base, YouTube's new headquarters, VMware’s Corporate Campus, and Apex Clean Energy's new Mass Timber Headquarters. He has also led the design and realization of nine innovative buildings at Park 20l20 in the Netherlands, the first cradle-to-cradle–inspired development implementing circular economy design strategies.

Alastair supported Catholic University on their Solar Decathlon 2013 entry as a sustainable architecture professor and served as an Architecture Contest Juror for Solar Decathlon 2015 in California. He has a master's degree in architecture from the University of Virginia's School of Architecture.

headshot photo of Tessa Smith Bradley

Tessa Smith Bradley

Tessa Bradley, along with her partner Roussa Cassel, are principal architects at the 100% women-owned Artisans Group architecture and planning firm. Artisans Group's iconic portfolio spans from multifamily, mixed-use, commercial, and hospitality design to nationally and internationally award-winning passive houses.

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Tessa’s signature mix of elegance and cutting-edge building science has been featured in Dwell, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, Sunset Magazine, Design Boom, Houzz, and in numerous books about sustainable design, prefab architecture, and Passive House homes. Tess holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Evergreen State College in sustainable architecture.

headshot photo of Kevin M. Powell

Kevin M. Powell

Kevin M. Powell is the director of the Center for Emerging Building Technologies at the General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) Public Buildings Service (PBS), and program director for the GSA Proving Ground. He focuses on identifying innovative technologies, practices, and processes that optimize how PBS designs, delivers, and operates more than 185 million square feet of federally owned real estate. Kevin brings two decades of experience in building science, design research, and policy analysis. Kevin manages a portfolio of over 13 active test bed projects in the areas of next generation building envelope; energy management; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning; lighting; and lighting control systems.

Kevin has a long-standing commitment to smart asset management, deployment of next generation building technologies, and indoor environmental quality. He received his master's degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and has published numerous articles about acoustics, workplaces, next generation building technologies, and urban design.

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headshot photo of Steve Brown

Steve Brown

As a third-generation lumberman and builder, Steve has been around the construction business most of his life and has over 2,500 units of housing to his credit, including multifamily rental, “for sale” condominiums, townhouses, single-family homes, and transitional housing.

As a winner of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Housing Innovation Awards, his focus is, and has been, on green, energy-efficient, affordable housing under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home guidelines.

headshot photo of Steve Glenn

Steve Glenn

Steve Glenn is the founder and CEO of Plant Prefab, which is the first prefabricated home factory in the nation dedicated to sustainable construction, materials, processes, and operations. Plant manufactures custom and single/multifamily homes that are high-quality, healthy, and durable. Previously, Steve worked with the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative and managed the development of a $220 million program in Mozambique. He is the former CEO of PeopleLink, a leading provider of enterprise e-community solutions and was a founding partner of Idealab, a business incubation firm that raised $1 billion. He has worked for Walt Disney Imagineering as co-director of the Virtual Reality Studio, and co-founded Clearview Software, which was sold to Apple Computer. Steve holds a B.A. with honors from Brown University, studied urban planning at Harvard Graduate School of Design, and was a Coro Fellow.

headshot photo of Marc LaFrance

Marc LaFrance

Marc LaFrance serves as an advanced technology and energy policy manager at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). He manages the windows R&D program and supports the residential program, which is mostly focused on heat pumps and windows technology challenges, field validation, and market transformation. He has supported DOE since 1993, working on the Standards program, ENERGY STAR program, and emerging technology procurement and demonstration programs. He managed the window and envelope R&D program from 2002 to 2012. During his tenure, his DOE programs received seven 100 R&D Awards. Marc also manages the U.S.-China bilateral agreement on building energy efficiency and the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), which is in its tenth and final year. Prior to his current role, Marc managed energy analysis for the building’s sector at the International Energy Agency’s Sustainable Policy and Technology Directorate in Paris from 2012 to 2015. His prior international experience includes an assignment at the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre in Tokyo working on macro energy policy and economic analyses for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation region from 2000–2002. Marc has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and a Master of Science in urban systems engineering from George Mason University. He also is recognized as a certified energy manager by the Association of Energy Engineers.

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