AIA San Francisco members don’t think that design has to be compromised when planning an energy-efficient building. To demonstrate how the two can go hand in hand, the West Coast chapter is partnering with Pacific Gas and Electric to sponsor the second-annual competition for zero-net-energy (ZNE) building designs: Architecture at Zero 2012.

Open to both students and professionals worldwide, the competition challenges entrants to design a ZNE student housing or administrative building for the University of California Merced, along with submitting a an energy plan for the Bellevue Gateway development. The winning design for the ZNE building will be constructed as part of the Bellevue Gateway.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a ZNE building project “produces at least as much energy as it uses over a year when accounted for at the site level (as defined by the boundaries of the project, whether one or multiple buildings).” Judges will use these standards in determining the winners of the competition, who will receive prize money totaling a combined $25,000.

The deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2012. For more information on the competition, visit the Architecture at Zero 2012 website.