Sustainable Suburban Design Competition || Keene, NH

Two Competitions: Sustainable Home Renovation & Suburban Backyard Homestead

Project Format and Guidelines

Design guidelines

Guidelines for both competitions

  1. Work within applicable zoning laws and other regulations.
  2. The dimensions of the house’s foundation should remain the same. (The foundation matches the shape of the ground floor, except that there is no foundation under the porch.)
  3. The footprint of the garage should remain the same.
  4. The metal frame south of the house will soon be removed. You need not include the frame in your design.
  5. Design for four people living in the house. You can assume that they are a couple and two single individuals or a couple with two children.
  6. Use a whole systems, sustainability-oriented approach to design.
  7. Design to capture on-site renewable resources and minimize the ecological impact of living on the site.
  8. Aesthetics should be intended to be pleasant for residents of the site and to blend reasonably well with the surrounding neighborhood.

Guidelines for home renovation design  

  1. Your design may be a renovation of the existing structure or a new structure using the existing footprint.
  2. The house should have three bedrooms.
  3. The building should be net zero, or as close as possible.
  4. Design to incorporate at least some reclaimed materials.
  5. Assume a budget of $135K maximum for construction. 

Guidelines for homestead design 

  1. Design for organic, sustainable practices.
  2. Include outdoor living spaces for relaxing, entertaining, and play.
  3. Design for residents to grow at least 50% of the food they will eat, in an omnivorous diet.

Chickens integrated into a vegetable garden

Format for competition entries 

  1. Include plan view depictions, verbal descriptions of the design, and at least one rendering or sketch to help the judges understand your design. Include enough narrative and labeling for the judges to be able to thoroughly and easily understand the ideas in your design. Make sure to include a scale and a north arrow on every drawing.
  2. Include a site analysis and/or an explanation of the site conditions to which your design is responding, problems your design solves, or other information about why you developed your design in the way you did.

For home renovation

Include an estimate of the cost of implementing your design.

For backyard homestead design: 

Contestants are encouraged to include a phasing plan, especially one that shows how residents could implement the design to grow an increasing amount of food over time. Contestants are also encouraged to include guidelines for managing the design sustainably over time.

Mulch basin in a greywater-fed garden

Mulch basin in a greywater-fed garden

Judging criteria 

Designs will be judged based on how realistic they are; how creative; how thorough; how well they promote beneficial ecological relationships and minimize negative ecological impact; and how well they reflect an understanding of site conditions.

How to submit your entry

Submit your design as a single PDF formatted to print on 11″ x 17″ paper. Participants in the Sustainable Home Renovation Design competition may also submit larger-format documents, in a separate PDF, with printing directions. Make sure that your competition number (received from the Project Manager) is on each page. Do not include your name or any identifying information on your entry. E-mail your design to the Project Manager at designcompetitionkeene <at> Your entry must be received by 11:59 P.M. on Tuesday, September 3.

Chicken photo by Nigel Wedge. Greywater photo from 


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