During an awards ceremony March 28, 2013 in Baltimore, MD, the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Products Lab (FPL) and APA – The Engineered Wood Association honored several local architects as winners in the Carbon Challenge Baltimore Design Competition. The contest, based in Baltimore but open to entrants nationwide, challenged residential architects to design an affordable house while considering strategies that reduce fossil fuel use and the structure’s carbon footprint.
Competition participants developed an urban row house for the 1500 block of Bethel St. in Baltimore’s Oliver neighborhood. With the help of life-cycle assessment software from the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, designers determined the impact of the greenhouse gas emissions from the products in their design. Along with each entry’s carbon footprint, the judges considered its use of wood, its cost-effectiveness, and its aesthetic.
Cash prizes totaling $10,000 were awarded to the winners across multiple categories:
- Grand Prize ($5,000): Phillip Jones—Cho Benn Holback + Associates, Baltimore
- Second Place ($2,500): Alexander Dzurec—autotroph, Huntington
- Third Place ($1,000): Drew Suljak, Kelly Krob, & David Lopez—studioRED / hord | coplan | macht, Baltimore
- Best Use of Wood Products ($500): Chris Melander & Ross Smith—RTKL Associates Inc., Baltimore
- Best Curb Appeal ($500): Randy M. Sovich & Jojo Duah—RM Sovich Architecture, Baltimore
- Most Cost-Effective ($500): Jay Orr—ARQ Architects, Baltimore
- Special Judges Award: Best Social Statement: Lisa M. Ferretto & Kallie Sternburgh—hord | coplan | macht, Baltimore; Janice Romanosky—Pando Alliance, Millersville; & Prescott Gaylord—Entellis Collaborative/Hamel Builders, Elkridge
View the winning designs.
“We were extremely impressed by the entries to the Carbon Challenge Design Competition; the designers took innovative approaches to reducing the home’s carbon footprint while achieving both aesthetic appeal and optimal building performance,” said Bob Clark, senior engineered wood specialist for APA. “The entries clearly reflect the excitement of their designers for creating sustainable building solutions. These designs will improve not only the livability of homes, but also of the surrounding community.”
Phillip Jones’ winning concept modernizes the traditional row house design with an open floor plan that maximizes daylight; a wider, semi-enclosed front “stoop”; and a roof deck with covered and uncovered entertaining areas, green roofing system, and solar hot water collectors.The design’s rammed-earth construction, a highly efficient building method that stores heat in the winter while blocking it in the summer, contributed significantly to its lower carbon footprint. (Pictured: Grand Prize winner Phillip Jones with APA Senior Engineered Wood Specialist Bob Clark.
“This well-conceived and well-designed residence provides comfortably proportioned, usable living spaces with many desirable features, including an entry vestibule, a mud room/pantry, and a second-floor den with laundry,” said one of the judges.
A total of 144 designers entered the Carbon Challenge competition in Baltimore and a simultaneous contest in Providence. The initiative is designed to raise awareness of the environmental benefits of wood construction, particularly the carbon neutrality of wood as a building material, and to promote the use of life cycle assessment tools.
“The goal of the Carbon Challenge is to educate designers about the role of building materials in a home’s environmental footprint. By designing with consideration to life cycle assessment, participants are able to adapt their designs and product selections to maximize efficiency and energy performance,” said Mike Ritter, assistant director for FPL. “In turn, the resulting home designs showcase to the public the attainability and lifelong benefits of sustainably built, wood-framed homes.”
The Carbon Challenge is held in partnership with the City of Baltimore and AIA Baltimore, and is supported by sponsors LP Building Products, Boise Cascade, and Roseburg Forest Products.
The Baltimore Carbon Challenge Winning Designs
Grand Prize Design Award
Cho Benn Holback + Associates
Comment from the judges: The design cleanly addresses the relationship of the community to the structure through the use of a raised entry and ample exterior living space.
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Comment from the judges: Admirable analysis and reinterpretation of the traditional row house facade. The variation in window size and location successfully creates visual interest for this streetscape and identity for the individual homeowner with an economy of means.
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Drew Suljak, Kelly Krob, & David Lopez
studioRED / hord | coplan | macht
Comment from the judges: A great example of the ecological effect of construction and how the built environment, properly managed, can have a positive effect on the community as a whole.
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Best Use of Wood
Chris Melander & Ross Smith
RTKL Associates Inc.
Comment from the judges: Exposed floor joists and salvaged wood decking do double-duty as finish materials. Exterior cedar siding. Design submission demonstrates a clear understanding of wood frame construction.
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Best Curb Appeal
Randy M. Sovich & Jojo Duah
RM Sovich Architecture
Comment from the judges: Outstanding architectural design breaks the pattern of the traditional Baltimore row house with an intelligent, elegant, and well proportioned design that challenges the relationship between entry and public right-of-way.
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Comment from the judges: Well crafted, resource efficient design. Alignment of wood framing members allows for the economical use of material. Creative roof framing and sloped roofs promise to reduce the size and cost of the structure.
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Special Judges Award: Best Social Statement
Lisa M. Ferretto & Kallie Sternburgh
hord | coplan | macht
Entellis Collaborative/Hamel Builders
Comment from the judges: A successful attempt at creating a plan for a sustainable community and redeveloping the urban fabric and culture of Baltimore.
View this design. (PDF 4.6MB)