2021 Design Challenge Juries
Teams that compete in the annual U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Design Challenge spend up to two semesters creating residential or commercial building designs. Designs are evaluated on how well they meet the nation's rapidly evolving demand for buildings that are innovative, cost-effective, quick to build, high-quality, resilient, grid interactive, efficient, and locally responsive. Teams choose one of seven building type Divisions in which to compete. Winners from each Division are determined by juried evaluation across all 10 Contests and awarded with trophies at the annual Solar Decathlon Competition Event. Two Design Challenge Grand Winners are also selected from the first-place teams—one from the residential Divisions and one from the commercial Divisions—and are provided with a special award.
Learn more about the 2021 individual jurors by Division below, or visit the Design Challenge Rules to learn how the jurors evaluate projects..
- Grand Jury
- Suburban Single-Family Housing
- Urban Single-Family Housing
- Attached Housing
- Mixed-Use Multifamily Building
- Office Building
- Elementary School
- Retail Building
Nora Wang Esram
Nora Wang Esram oversees the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) research agenda in a range of topic areas including buildings, industry, transportation, and behavior. She leads, supports, and coordinates the work of all research programs and contributions to policy activities. She joined ACEEE in 2020. Prior to joining ACEEE, Nora worked at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a chief engineer and team lead in the Electricity Infrastructure and Buildings Division for 10 years. Nora holds a Ph.D. in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Arts in architecture from the National University of Singapore.
As the Director of Sustainable Design at HOK, Anica leads the firm’s global sustainable design practice, serving on the firm’s board of directors and design board. Based in Washington, D.C., Anica serves locally on the Green Building and Energy Codes Technical Advisory Group, is on the Mayor’s Green Building Advisory Council, and co-chairs the Building Energy Performance Standards Task Force. She also serves on the national U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Advisory Committee, International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2024 Code Development Committee, and the National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council. She is a senior fellow of the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2021 Government Advocacy Committee. Anica previously served on the AIA Blue Ribbon Panel on Codes, coauthoring “Disruption, Evolution, and Change: AIA’s Vision for the Future of Design and Construction.” With the U.S. General Services Administration, she coauthored “The New Sustainable Frontier: Principles of Sustainable Development.”
With Trane since 1982, Mick's areas of expertise include system optimization (in which he holds patents) as well as chilled water and water source heat pump system design. Prior to his work with Trane, Mick received his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Solar Energy Laboratory and Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University. Mick serves as a president-elect on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) board of directors and is also an ASHRAE fellow and recipient of ASHRAE's Exceptional Service, Distinguished Service, and Standards Achievement awards. He also served as the chair of the Standing Standard Project Committee (SSPC) 90.1-2010 and as the Advanced Energy Design Guide (AEDG) steering committee chair.
SUBURBAN SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING
Jim currently serves as the building science advisor for Drexel Building Supply, which serves more than 5,000 licensed contractors, creating opportunities to use building science to create resilient buildings with a focus on zero energy ready homes. Jim previously served as the production/warranty manager at Tim O'Brien Homes, with a focus on energy-efficient, healthy homes. During Jim’s time with the company, he was awarded two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Housing Innovation Awards and helped create the first zero energy ready community in Wisconsin.
Mairi, LEED AP BD +C, is an architect specializing in hospitality and multifamily residential buildings at OZ Architecture in Denver, Colorado. Her work has taken her to locations across the globe. Mairi is a key member of leadership with the OZ Education Committee, which provides training through monthly discussions for staff to contribute, present, and learn. OZ has been nationally recognized for taking an integrated approach in creating facilities that give more than they take, and Mairi is proud to have contributed to a net-zero certified building last year in Colorado. Mairi has a master's degree in architecture from University of Colorado and a bachelor's degree in molecular biology from Tufts University.
Susan McFaddin is a zero energy developer in Northern Colorado. She developed the first LEED-NC (New Construction) Platinum Office Park and certified the first LEED-EB (Existing Building) building in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was the development consultant on DOE grand prize award-winning zero energy ready developments in 2016, 2018, and 2019 in Fort Collins. In her spare time, she works on state and local policies to improve energy efficiency, catapult renewable energy adoption, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Ray Tonjes is the president and founder of Ray Tonjes Builder, Inc., a home building company based in Austin, Texas, that specializes in mainstream, sustainable, and high-performance custom homes and renovations. In 1985, Ray became one of the first “Austin Energy Star” builders as part of an aggressive energy conservation program. This program evolved into the nation’s first Green Building Rating System, established in 1991. Ray was a founding member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Sustainability and Green Building Subcommittee in 1999. During his tenure as chairman (2001–2008 and 2017–2018), the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines were developed. First published in 2005, these guidelines were the basis for the development of the National Green Building Standard. Ray was the founding Director/Chairman of the Board (2004–2014) of the Green Building Initiative, a national nonprofit. Based on its Green Globes Environmental Design and Assessment Rating System for New Construction, the Green Building Initiative created the ANSI/GBI 01-2010 Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings.
URBAN SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING
Ms. Butterfield is a sustainability director at Steven Winter Associates, Inc., working with residential buildings. Her expertise is in sustainable consulting services, program certification support, and implementation of high-performance building technologies. With architects, developers, builders, and homeowners, she develops specific sustainability strategies for both new construction and renovations.
Ankur is the director of construction at Module, a Pittsburgh-based startup company that designs high-performance homes and offers a pay-as-you-go solution to home ownership. He leads both off-site and on-site construction activities at Module and also manages supply chain partners. Module is a 100% commitment partner to the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program and prides itself in exclusively building high-performance homes. Module's first home won a DOE Housing Innovation Award in the Custom Homes category. Bringing good design and performance to the average homebuyer is one of Module's core long-term visions.
Laura Dwyer leads new business development for DuPont Performance Building Solutions, a Fortune 500 material and building science supplier to the construction industry. Her career has been focused on improving construction methods and includes innovation and marketing leadership roles as well as leadership of the DuPont Building Knowledge Center, an international network of experts who help our industry build better structures. Laura knows that active collaboration is key to change and is currently vice chair of the NAHB Building Systems Council and supports NAHB's Professional Women in Building Council. Laura also serves on the board of advisors for the Housing Innovation Alliance and is past chair of the Home Building Institute and past member of the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance executive board of trustees. Laura has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering and a Master of Business Administration.
Nakita Reed is an award-winning architect with experience in preservation, restoration, and adaptive use of historic buildings, with a focus on sustainable strategies in design and construction. She has a Master of Architecture and a Master of Science in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in architecture from the University of Virginia. She is a registered architect, a LEED-accredited professional, and a certified passive house consultant. She serves on the boards of Preservation Maryland and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, and is a past chair of the Maryland Green Building Council. She is also the host of Tangible Remnants, a podcast that explores the intersection of architecture, preservation, sustainability, race, and gender.
Melanie De Cola
Originally trained as a graphic designer, Melanie has been working in the field of architecture for more than a decade. From her start designing layouts for Dwell magazine and Architecture for Humanity, she has always maintained an interest in high-performance design and completed her master's thesis on biomimicry. She even used images from the 2007 Solar Decathlon in a master's degree book about “alternative architecture.” Currently she helps firms discover, apply, and share research occurring across the field, as well as within academia, as part of the research team at AIA. Previously she supported research and marketing at Hickok Cole Architects and Gensler. She lives in the Washington D.C. area, is a LEED Green Associate, and an active member of the Net Zero Energy Coalition for the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) region.
Kathryn is a graduate of the University of Colorado Building Systems Program, and was an intern at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for several years before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006. The past 15 years have been packed full of energy modeling, engineering, and other green building shepherding adventures around the world. Currently, Kathryn is leading a team of engineers in developing prefabricated residential solutions to tackle the Bay Area's housing crisis, including an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) product line and emergency housing.
Gene Myers is the owner and CEO of Thrive Home Builders. By virtue of Thrive's 10 consecutive DOE Grand Awards for Housing Innovation, Thrive is among the nation's foremost builders of high-performance homes. Every Thrive home is built zero energy ready and LEED certified, and Thrive is Denver's largest builder of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indoor airPLUS-qualified homes. Thrive is a top 20 builder in Denver. Professional Builder Magazine named Thrive Home Builders its 2017 Builder of the Year, and Thrive won the National Housing Quality Award—bronze and silver in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Gene's career in urban development spans more than 30 years—from a civil engineer in the U.S. Peace Corps in the early 1970s to starting his own homebuilding company in the early 1990s. Gene is known as an advocate for smart growth and affordable housing. He frequently speaks locally and nationally on these topics.
Gary Gene Olp
Gary Gene Olp directs GGO Architects, a boutique green architectural practice in Dallas, Texas, dedicated to excellence in design and sensitivity to place and the environment. GGO Architects is a general practice established in 1987 to affect a fundamental change in the application of the craft of architecture based on an understanding of environmental stewardship. Gary's efforts reflect an enterprising approach to energy efficiency, passive solar techniques, natural daylighting, and enhanced fresh air systems with an emphasis on reducing construction waste and the use of natural, non-toxic building materials.
Gary's civic involvement in the City of Dallas reflects his commitment to a broader vision as a practicing professional. He has served as a board member on various cultural, educational, and civic boards, as well as committees and task forces, including the non-profit Sustainable Dallas. Gary is actively involved with the Boy Scouts of America and is one of the originators and co-chairs of the AIA Dallas chapter Committee on the Environment. He is immediate past chairman for the board of the North Texas chapter of the USGBC.
MIXED-USE MULTIFAMILY BUILDING
Dr. Diana Fisler brings to ADL Ventures her passion for both building materials and the interface between early technologies and corporates. Over the years, she has delivered new business opportunities in the building space. Diana earned her Ph.D. in geophysics from The Pennsylvania State University and contributes her expertise to industry organizations and committees, serving as chair of ASHRAE Technical Committee 4.4 Building Materials and Building Envelope Performance and vice chair of ASTM Committee on C16 Thermal Insulation, as well as an advisory board member of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²).
As an engineer at Frontier Energy, Alea brings passion for efficiency, building systems, and energy modeling to her work. Her focus is on whole building energy optimization, technology assessment, and code development, particularly as it relates to zero net energy (ZNE) design. Alea is a skilled energy modeler with over a decade of experience with various software tools. Overseeing Frontier’s energy code consulting services, she has a broad understanding of California’s Title 24, Part 6 code and leads statewide technical code change proposals. As a key technical lead for the California Codes and Standards Reach Codes program, Alea provides technical support to local governments on adopting ordinances to meet energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals. Over her career, she has contributed to research evaluations of residential technologies such as ventilation cooling, air to water heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters and has experience with field surveying and testing in retrofit and new construction applications. Alea, a licensed professional engineer, received her Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Davis and Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
Lance is the director of engineering for the Building & Construction Division at the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI). PPI's expertise is on plastic pressure pipes, such as chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), high density polyethylene (HDPE), PEX (cross-linked polyethylene), polyethylene of raised temperature (PE-RT), and polypropylene (PP). Lance has been in the plastic pipe industry since 1993—involved with hydronic radiant heating and cooling applications, geothermal ground loop piping systems, plumbing, and fire protection systems. In addition to technical research, advocacy, and training, Lance also works with mechanical codes and piping standards and serves on committees within ASHRAE, ASTM, the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) , the Hydronics Industry Alliance-Commercial (HIA-C), the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA), and the Radiant Professionals Alliance (RPA).
Rauzia Ruhana Ally
Born in Guyana, South America, Rauzia Ruhana Ally spent her childhood years in an environment rich for nurturing the imagination. Guyana did not offer itself easily to human settlement; a narrow strip of land along Guyana's coast was rescued from the mangrove swamp and kept under cultivation by an elaborate system of dams, dikes, and canals, providing drainage, irrigation, and transportation—fertile ground for dreaming and fodder for developing a sustainable mindset. Since reading Frank Lloyd Wright's biography as an 11-year-old, Rauzia has nurtured her passion for architecture. Her career since graduating from the Catholic University of America (CUA) has spanned tenures at Lehman Smith Mcleish, SOM, SmithGroup, and AECOM. She has also taught at every level of CUA's architecture program and has had her own award-winning firm, Scout Motor Company. Rauzia has also represented the owner's side as design manager for the DC Public Library and the DC Courts. Now, she is a senior project manager at Leo A Daly, working in the civic and institutional sector at the local level in the Washington, D.C. area.
Max is a regional leader of HOK's sustainability team based in New York. A registered architect, he has more than two decades of experience in sustainable design, planning, and implementation. Max provides innovative sustainable design solutions for all types of individual building projects, as well as at the portfolio scale by leveraging performance-based design tools with strategic implementation. With a strongly held belief that sustainable design presents unique opportunities to uncover new value for clients, Max has seen it become a ready-made tool for market differentiation and leadership.
Cristine Gibney, LEED AP O+M, is the net zero building coordinator at American Geophysical Union (AGU), which supports 130,000 enthusiasts to experts worldwide in Earth and space sciences. She is a member of the team overseeing the organization's 62,000-square foot net zero energy renovation—the first of its kind in Washington, D.C. Cristine holds a Master of Science in Sustainable Design from the Catholic University of America’s School of Architecture and Planning where she also teaches LEED Lab. She is an active member of ASHRAE Technical Committee 7. 3 Operations, Maintenance, and Cost Assessment and the NCR Net-Zero Energy Coalition.
David Olson is vice president at PCD Engineering Services, Inc. He is a longstanding member of the Denver, Colorado, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) community. Previously, he owned and operated a full-service mechanical engineering firm for more than 30 years. At PCD Engineering Services, he works primarily in the forensic engineering realm, predominantly working for attorneys practicing construction defect law. He is responsible for quality control for all mechanical projects at PCD and also performs many building code reviews for local jurisdictions and the state of Colorado. He is currently a voting member of the Colorado Electrical Board. He has also been an active member of ASHRAE since 1979 and has served on the board of directors at all levels. He received the ASHRAE Distinguished Service Award and was honored as an ASHRAE Fellow in 2016.
Paul Hutton is the chief sustainability officer for Cuningham Group Architecture, an international design firm with approximately 300 employees. He has been actively designing energy-efficient, daylighted, and sustainable buildings since the early 1980s. He is a fellow of both the AIA and the USGBC, in recognition of his many contributions to the promotion of sustainable design. He has been an architecture juror for two previous Solar Decathlons—Washington, D.C., in 2011 and Datong, China, in 2013. Paul lives on a regenerative ranch south of Denver, Colorado, with his wife, dog, and free-range chickens.
Carol Marriott is the sales and marketing leader at ClimateCraft, a manufacturer of HVAC equipment. She has over 20 years of experience in HVAC systems and energy applications. Carol holds dual bachelor's degrees in engineering science and economics from the University of Western Ontario and further earned an executive Master of Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. In addition to her formal education accomplishments, she is a professional engineer, a LEED-accredited professional, and ASHRAE member. As an ASHRAE member, Carol has served on multiple committees related to energy-efficient mechanical systems. Additionally, she has contributed to a number of Advanced Energy Design Guides and is currently working with the committee on the Advanced Energy Design Guide for Multifamily Buildings.
Donald Martin has more than 19 years of experience in architecture, planning, and consulting and is the principal of MARSTON design studio. Mr. Martin has provided architectural design and consulting to sustainable construction and environmental design on multiple project types. He oversees the day-to-day administration of projects pursuing Green Globes, ENERGY STAR, and LEED certifications. Sustainability measurement requires a unique skill set at the property level that includes detail orientation and a keen eye for assessing projects based on paperwork reviews and, when possible, on-site walk-throughs.
A nationally recognized expert in learning space planning and design as well as sustainability, Rob is an advocate for exceptional learning spaces that blend thoughtful design with high-performance goals to deliver added value for clients and users. He is a frequent speaker at regional and national conferences and was named the 2018 Planner of the Year by the Virginia Association for Learning Environments. As a project architect and director of sustainability, Rob designed VMDO Architect's first AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten project for Manassas Park Elementary School. Rob is well known for innovative projects and experience with net-zero energy and net-zero water schools. To date, he has worked on 11 net-zero energy projects, and his work has been recognized with numerous awards for planning, design, architecture, urbanism, and sustainability.
Rand Ekman is chief sustainability officer at HKS Architects. Rand has a passion both for projects and for driving broad-based, measurable change in practice. He leads HKS' environmental, social governance team bringing together firm-wide leadership advancing sustainability; public interest design; and justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. He has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a master's degree in architecture. Rand is on the board of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative and has served as a board member of the Illinois Green Alliance and on many national USGBC committees. He was the 2012 president of AIA Chicago and the 2015 chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment, and served as a founding chair of the AIA 2030 Commitment working group.
Ryan Jang, AIA, LEED AP, is a principal at Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects in San Francisco, the 2017 AIA Firm Award recipient. He specializes in diverse building types—mainly learning environments and higher education, but also affordable multifamily housing and civic and adaptive reuse projects. His passion for working with clients to meaningfully understand their values allows him to facilitate an inclusive design process in pursuit of collaborative and uplifting architecture. His buildings strive to be an exuberant expression of the communities they serve and sensitively responsive to their cultural and environmental context. Ryan's projects have been recognized with multiple local and national design awards, and he has been an invited speaker at several conferences and design juries. He is a registered architect in California, a LEED-accredited professional, and received a Bachelor of Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Kathy Loftus is the vice president of business development at e2s energy efficiency services, bringing lifecycle solutions to the built environment. Kathy was formerly vice president of sustainability for Whole Foods Market for 14 years before joining e2s in 2020, and together with teams innovated in many areas within the built environment; waste and packaging; and education, marketing, and communication. She was a founding steering committee member for the DOE Better Buildings Alliance and was a founding member of the EPA's Green Chill Program. With a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, she is a member of the boards of the Green Building Initiative and The Future of American Energy—and was a former chair and member of the boards of Clean Air-Cool Planet and WasteCap.