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USGBC 2010 Natural Talent Design Competition

Small, Green, Affordable

The Salvation Army joins the U.S. Green Building Council this year in hosting USGBC‘s 2010 Natural Talent Design Competition, with the theme Small, Green, Affordable. Entrants will design an affordable, 800 square foot green home for an elderly client in the Broadmoor, New Orleans neighborhood. Winners will be announced after the top four entries have been constructed, inhabited and evaluated.

National finalists announced!

USGBC announces the four national finalists in the 2010 Natural Talent Design Competition. These four winning designs will be constructed in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans by the Salvation Army’s EnviRenew.

The Emerging Professional finalists are Little Easy and Ramped Up.

The Student finalists are E.A.S.Y. House and Greenboy Design.

Learn more from the press release (PDF)!


Through its EnviRenew initiative, The Salvation Army is kicking off a large-scale residential green building campaign in five neighborhoods in New Orleans, facilitating the construction of 125 new homes and the renovation of 125 existing homes over the next three years through the provision of grant financing to homebuyers and homeowners. EnviRenew identifies sustainability as a critical component of comprehensive neighborhood recovery and engages green building issues within broader discussions regarding affordable housing, community capacity, neighborhood renewal and storm-resilience.

The Salvation Army and the U.S. Green Building Council recognize that financially vulnerable individuals, families, and neighborhoods are particularly in need of the benefits that sustainable design and green building practices bring. This partnership challenges entrants to design homes that demonstrate both short-term and long-term affordability, a high quality of life for their residents, and replicable strategies that contribute to our understanding of how to build affordably, efficiently and with minimal impact on the environment.


Competition Announced at Greenbuild November 2009
Registration Opens January 4, 2010
Early Registration Deadline March 1, 2010
Final Registration Deadline May 31, 2010
Project Submissions Due May 31, 2010
Chapters Host Local Awards Ceremonies Month of July 2010
Local Finalist Projects Posted at Open Architecture Network and USGBC Month of July 2010
Four Design Finalists Notified August 29, 2010
All Projects Notified of Status September 3, 2010
Public Unveiling of Four Design Finalists at Greenbuild Chicago November 2010

The Competition:

Entries are requested for the design of an affordable single-family home that meets the requirements of USGBC’s LEED for Homes Platinum-level certification and contains between 720 and 880 square feet of living space. The client for each home will be an elderly individual or couple in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans. The home must be designed with this client in mind, as well guests and future homebuyers. Four home designs will be chosen: two student designs and two emerging professional designs.

To arrive at these four homes, panels of judges in each USGBC Chapter will pick one student entry and one emerging professional entry for competition at the national level. A national panel of judges, including residents of the Broadmoor neighborhood and builders and designers from both New Orleans and elsewhere, will then choose four designs from the pool of local winners.

The four teams will be brought to New Orleans (max. 2 individuals per team) to finalize designs with the potential resident.


Student Category: Students must be currently enrolled in a full-time, accredited undergraduate or graduate program in the following fields relating to residential design and building: (i) architecture, (iii) architectural drafting (ii) landscape architecture, (iii) building design, (iv) interior design, (v) urban planning, (vi) construction, (vii) construction management, (viii) engineering, (ix) affordable housing, (x) disability/elderly services, (xi) business (BBA/MBA), (xii) economics, or (xiii) marketing/ communications. Students must be 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Those whole qualify in this capacity may only compete in the Student category and Students teams may only be made up of Students.

Emerging Professional Category: Emerging Professionals must be no more than 5 years out of most recent schooling and be employed in one of the following fields relating to residential design and building: (i) architecture, (ii) landscape architecture, (iii) building design, (iv) interior design, (v) urban planning, (vi) construction, (vii) construction management, (viii) engineering, (ix) affordable housing, (x) housing policy, (xi) disability/elderly services, (xii) real estate development, or (xiii) marketing/communications. Emerging Professionals must be 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Those whole qualify in this capacity may only compete in the Emerging Professionals category and Emerging Professionals teams may only be made up of Emerging Professionals.


  1. Floor area within the building envelope must be between 720 and 880 square feet. Exterior elements are restricted only by cost and zoning requirements.
  2. The house must demonstrate the ability to achieve Platinum certification in USGBC’s LEED for Homes Rating System.
  3. Total costs, including materials and labor, must not exceed $100,000 Land value is excluded from this price point. Please use the cost estimation template provided for typical materials and labor costs in New Orleans.
  4. Designs should carefully consider the context of the Broadmoor neighborhood, which consists of the historic, narrow lot, one- and two-family homes that are typical of New Orleans. (see neighborhood information in Appendix A).
  5. The house should be designed for a typical middle-block, 30’ x 100’ lot oriented north-south (see general site information in Appendix B).
  6. Finish-floor elevation should be no lower than 7 ft. above grade. Designs should carefully consider the relationship of the house to the street and neighbors, given the height requirement.
  7. Designs should incorporate strategies for hurricane resistance and resilience, including 150 mph wind rating and window protection.
  8. Designs should strongly consider how the lot’s landscape will interact with the built structure and provide site plans showing integration between these elements. Landscape does not need to be considered within the $100,000 price point, and will be limited to $5,000 within the cost estimation template. (updated 2010-03-01)
  9. The Principles of Universal Design ( or a similarly inclusive set of principles must be used, with particular emphasis on features that will be appropriate to elders. Consultation with individuals in elder care and design are encouraged.
  10. Designs must be ADA compliant.
  11. Entries must include proposed methods for educating occupants about energy and water usage.

Note: The indoor use of captured rainwater or recycled waste water of any kind in New Orleans is not approved by the state Department of Health and Hospitals. However, captured rainwater can be used for irrigation purposes. We encourage design teams to find alternate methods of achieving WE (Water Efficiency) Credits.

Programmatic Requirements:

  • 2 bedrooms (one ‘Master’)
  • 1 ½ bathrooms
  • Full kitchen (refrigerator, dishwasher, stovetop, oven, kitchen sink)
  • Laundry
  • Living area
  • Dining area
  • Outdoor living space (does not count towards the square footage requirements)

Required Submittals:

Please see the "Requirements" tab for specific Image and Document Submission Requirements.

  1. Plans and Sections that include site information while conveying interior and exterior spatial organization, programmatic relationships, site design considerations, landscaping and other relevant details.
  2. Wall Sections that describe the building envelope and extend from roof to foundation, clearly illustrating material assemblies, critical components and joints, structural considerations, details related to building openings, and other key aspects of the design.
  3. Additional Diagrams (any scale) that describe concepts, systems and strategies.
  4. Perspectives/Axonometrics/Collages that show how the design engages its context. Although the specific site is not given, designers should use the provided photos and indications of scale to represent their consideration of the neighborhood context.
  5. Completed preliminary LEED for Homes checklist that shows all prerequisites met along with expected point totals in each credit category.
  6. Cost Estimation Template (provided) to demonstrate ability to build within the $100K limit. Typical New Orleans prices for labor and materials are included in the template. Entrants may attach a single page to the cost estimate to discuss overall construction cost strategies, to describe innovative financing approaches to green design features, and to explain departures from the given template.

Judging Criteria:

Four designs will be selected: two student and two emerging professional entries. Selected designers will travel to New Orleans to develop their designs in collaboration with builders and residents. The jury will be comprised of architects, landscape architects, planners, builders, community advocates and neighborhood residents. The Judging Criteria are as follows:

Judging Criteria Points
Considers the neighborhood context, as determined by the jury (includes Broadmoor resident(s)) 30
Interior Design and Smart Flow 20
Provides a realistic cost estimate that does not exceed $100,000.00 US 20
Demonstrates an ability to achieve LEED Platinum rating, with emphasis placed on lower occupancy costs including utilities and maintenance 20
Demonstrates inclusive design with specific focus on the elderly 10
Thoughtful methods for educating occupants about energy and water use are included 10
Includes hurricane-resistance, with specified 150mph wind rating and window protections 10

You may also download these official rules (73KB pdf) [Updated 2010-02-26].

Competition Details