Illinois Tech Programs Teaching Sustainable Building Design Receive DOE Zero Energy Designation

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By Simon Morrow

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Two programs at Illinois Institute of Technology have been selected to receive the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Zero Energy Design Designation (ZEDD).

Buildings and their construction are major contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, so future engineers must be trained to design and construct high-efficiency, low-carbon buildings.  

According to the DOE, the ZEDD designation acknowledges leading education programs that are preparing tomorrow’s architectural and engineering leaders to design and build the most sustainable buildings possible.

Illinois Tech is one of 12 institutions internationally with programs receiving this designation in DOE’s first cohort, with the Master of Engineering in Architectural Engineering and Master of High Performance Buildings programs being two of 17 programs selected. 

DOE offers ZEDD to programs with a proven ability to impart the best practices of zero-energy design, with an emphasis on hands-on learning by requiring students to apply those building science concepts in actual projects.

“This designation is important to us because it demonstrates our commitment to, and passion for, sustainable building design and interdisciplinary education. It is an honor to receive this designation as one of the first pilots,” says Brent Stephens, chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering and the Arthur W. Hill Endowed Chair in Sustainability.

Students in Illinois Tech’s ZEDD-designated programs will compete in the DOE’s Solar Decathlon Design Challenge, which Illinois Tech teams have won in previous years

“Our fight against climate change runs straight through our nation’s buildings, and the forward-looking college and university programs we honored today are paving the way for students to lead our net-zero greenhouse gas emissions future,” said Carolyn Snyder, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency. “Graduates of these programs will join the front lines of our fight against the climate crisis by designing sustainable buildings that bring the benefits of our clean energy future to all.”

The Biden-Harris administration has set the goal of reaching a net-zero emissions economy in the U.S. by 2050.