Providence Carbon Challenge Design Winners

Providence Carbon Challenge Awards Ceremony

During an awards ceremony March 26, 2013 in Providence, RI, 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 Providence Design Competition. The contest, based in Providence 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 a Habitat for Humanity home design for a vacant lot at 24 Hannah St. 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:

Carbon Challenge Providence Winners

  • Grand Prize ($5,000): ZeroEnergy Design, Boston (pictured)
  • 2nd Place ($2,500): Kyle Bamrick & Christopher Armstrong, Providence
  • 3rd Place ($1,000): Joseph P. Campanella—Design Alliance, LLC, West Hartford
  • Best Use of Wood Products ($500): Anne Lissett & Benjamin Monroe—LEAF Architecture, West Hartford
  • Best Curb Appeal ($500): Erik Rhodin & Taina Rhodin—Line Company Architects, Waltham
  • Most Cost-Effective ($500): Christen M. Robbins—Vision 3 Architects, Providence

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.” 

ZeroEnergy Design’s winning design, “The Little Green Rhody,” is a wood-framed four-bedroom, two-bath home with a gabled roof suitable for the neighborhood’s traditional architecture. By combining an airtight, well-insulated building envelope, high-efficiency windows sited for optimal solar orientation, a 7.5-kW solar array, and a range of other features, the house is designed to use less than half the energy of a code-built home. Other features include rain barrels to collect water for landscaping, a two-track driveway to decrease impermeable surfacing, and an insulated basement.

“This design is very buildable and beautifully represented,” noted one judge. “It fits the context of the neighborhood very well.”

A total of 144 designers entered the Carbon Challenge competition in Providence and a simultaneous contest in Baltimore. 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 Providence is held in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island—Greater Providence and AIA Rhode Island, and is supported by sponsors LP Building Products and Boise Cascade.

The Providence Carbon Challenge Winning Designs:


Providence Grand Prize WinnerGrand Prize Winner

ZeroEnergy Design

Comment from the judges: A clear example of open interior living spaces and exceptional operational energy use. Through the detailed narrative of construction techniques and material usage, this appropriate structure has excelled in meeting the design program.

View this design (PDF 3.9MB)

Providence 2nd Place WinnerSecond Place

Kyle Bamrick & Christopher Armstrong

Comment from the judges: This entry was exceptional in its usage of space and the innovation of the exterior cannot be overlooked. The understated contemporary elements with the vernacular tradition brought this design to the top of the heap. 

View this design (PDF 3.7MB)

Providence 3rd Place WinnerThird Place

Joseph P. Campanella
Design Alliance, LLC

Comment from the judges: This entry is a testament to the use of simple, common sense design elements to achieve the maximum use of space, as well as community inspired architecture which would have a positive impact on the neighborhood.

View this design (PDF 6.3MB)

Providence Best Use of Wood WinnerBest Use of Wood

Anne Lissett & Benjamin Monroe
LEAF Architecture

Comment from the judges: This entry is a good example of wood construction through the use of a double framed exterior wall that provides ample room for insulation and ease of assembly.

View this design (PDF 4.2MB)

Providence Best Curb Appeal WinnerBest Curb Appeal

Erik Rhodin & Taina Rhodin
Line Company Architects

Comment from the judges: This design was innovative in its use of a monolithic foundation, which did not negatively impact its relationship to the streetscape.

View this design (PDF 4MB)

Providence Most Cost Effective WinnerMost Cost-Effective

Christen M. Robbins
Vision 3 Architects

Comment from the judges: By also addressing aging-in-place and southern exposure, this appropriately detailed structure is extremely cost effective in its simple to build construction techniques needed for a largely volunteer labor force.

View this design (PDF 1.2MB)