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A group is presenting in front of Solar Decathlon judges panel.

Solar Decathlon Design Partners - Project Profiles

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Design Partners program encourages teams to engage with organizations that are considering a zero energy ready design for a planned construction, major retrofit project, or new construction project in their building portfolio.

The Design Partner provides basic project requirements and up to 30 hours of engagement with the student design team over the course of the competition for design programming, iterative schematics, and feedback. A representative from each Design Partner organization may attend the Competition Event at NREL. Teams should work to secure their own Design Partner.

Below are a limited number of available Design Partner opportunities with descriptions of project elements, including project type, location, requirements, and contact information for students who are interested in working on a project with a partner.

If you are a student team and are interested in collaborating with a Design Partner below, contact the Design Partner directly via the contact information provided.

If you are interested in becoming a Design Partner, additional information can be found on the Solar Decathlon Design Partners program webpage.

Lowe's Companies, Inc

Division: Retail Building
Project: 240 Ralph Stevens Road, Holly Springs, NC 27540

The Holly Springs, North Carolina, building design is based on Lowe's 94K building prototype. Lowe's is interested in evaluating building methods and technologies that can be applied to specific ASHRAE climate zones when applicable.

Current Project Status: 

  • Project approved and currently under construction for March 2021 opening; design review of Lowe's 94k prototype (Holly Springs, North Carolina, design) to be used across Lowe's portfolio for future alternate design considerations.

Project Goals: 

  • Identify alternate methods of construction, building materials, energy efficient technologies, or controls applicable for big box retail operations. 

Intended Occupants: 

  • 6 a.m.–10 p.m.: mix of customers, Lowe's associates, and third-party vendors
  • 10 p.m.–6 a.m.: Lowe's associates to stock and reset product displays.

Project Requirements/ Limitations:

Specific requirements provided for:

  • Building size
  • Room sizes
  • Building height
  • Site-specific requirements (upgraded brick facade and wrought iron fencing per local design requirements)
  • Construction timeline (not adding excessive length to existing schedule)
Budget: $8.062 million (building) with $11.28 million in general site conditions

Design Phase: Complete
Construction Phase: April 2020–March 2021
Occupancy scheduled for March 22, 2021, with soft open date of March 26, 2021

Other: Interested in analysis of temperature BIN data, utility rate structures, utility rebates/incentives for renewable, or energy efficiency technology implementation beneficial for financial analysis review.
Contact This Project Partner: Danny Dietrich,
Chris Cassell,

City of Oberlin, Ohio

Division: Attached Housing
Project: Low-Density Housing Development
212 Sumner Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

The City of Oberlin, Ohio, acquired 212 Sumner Street through the county land bank in late 2017. The City has invested approximately $105,000 in cleaning up the property so that it can be redeveloped. The City would like to build an infill housing project on the site that would be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, which consists primarily of single- and two-family residential housing.

The site is approximately 2.3 acres, and the City would prefer a low-density development with five to six units per acre. The site is immediately adjacent to a bike path, which stretches across the entire city and connects to the North Coast Inland Trail. The site is a three- to four-block walk to downtown Oberlin, which features shopping, restaurants, and many services.

Project Requirements/ Limitations
  • The project must be two stories in height or less to be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Units should be 700–1,100 ft2 and should have one to three bedrooms.
  • Low- to moderate-income households are the target market for this project and may include seniors (mixed age).
  • Type of construction can be determined by the design team but must meet the Ohio Building Code or Residential Code of Ohio, depending on how units are attached.
  • Universal design principles should be employed so that units are accessible to a broad range of households.
  • In addition to solar power, units should employ as many sustainable design principles as possible.
Budget: Approximately $1.2 million to $1.44 million

The City would like to produce design concepts in 2020–2021 so that it can use these in conversations with potential developers and/or the Oberlin Community Land Trust.
It is anticipated that final construction drawings, construction, and occupancy would occur during 2022–2024.

Other: N/A
Contact This Project Partner: Linda Arbogast, Oberlin Sustainability Coordinator

Phone | 440-775-7257
Email |

Carrie Handy, Oberlin Planning and Development Director

Phone | 440-935-3576
Email |

CJ Real Estate, LLC

Division: Retail Building
Project: Starbucks Coffee Retail Location
8520 N. Beach Street, Fort Worth, TX 76244

This project involves design and construction of a shell retail building that will house a Starbucks coffee shop. Project delivery will consist of site and exterior building work only; Starbucks will complete the interior of the project. Project construction is scheduled to start in January 2021.

Project Requirements/ Limitations
  • Building owner has detailed work letter of tenant requirements to share with interested team.
  • Building size is 2,200 ft2.
Budget: $700,000

Construction start is January 2021. Construction should be completed by June 2021.

Other: N/A
Contact This Project Partner: Matt Jamesen

Phone | 817-665-2343
Email |