Sustainable Construction and Design Program Earns Zero Energy Design Designation

Zero Energy Design Designation posted on Thursday, September 29, 2022 in  College News

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the Sustainable Construction and Design program at Hawkeye Community College with one of the first-ever Zero Energy Design Designation seals of recognition. Hawkeye is one of just 12 higher education institutions globally to receive this designation, which recognizes educational programs that are preparing tomorrow’s architectural and engineering leaders to design and build the most sustainable buildings possible.

Awarded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, this new DOE designation distinguishes post-secondary academic programs that impart the best practices of zero-energy design on students and require them to apply those building science concepts in actual projects.

“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 Zero Energy Design Designation program supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. With buildings being one of the main contributors to carbon emissions, building professionals must be trained to design and construct high-efficiency, low-carbon buildings powered by renewables to achieve this goal. DOE’s ZEDD designation, offered to qualifying programs of study for three years, requires graduating students to:

  • Complete a Building Science Education Curriculum that uses DOE’s Solar Decathlon Building Science Education learning modules or otherwise meets ZEDD’s learning objectives; and,
  • Participate in a Zero Energy Design Practicum, either by completing the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Design and/or Build Challenge or by engaging in a real-world zero-energy design project that would earn the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home certification or more stringent energy and environmental performance standard.

“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, and we expect the designation to help raise the visibility of our programs,” said Brent Stephens, Department Chair, Professor of Architectural Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Visit the DOE website for the complete list of designated programs.


  1. Department of Energy
  2. Sustainable Construction and Design
  3. Zero Energy Design Designation
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