Submission Guidelines

Program Requirements

  1.  10 to 15 Single Family affordable townhomes
  2.  To benefit the Deanwood Community.
  3.  Display the design’s potential to fulfill the 20 Imperatives of the Living Building Challenge.
  4.  Include a small safe communal outdoor space without a building or structure.

Construction Budget

Project teams should make every effort to make sustainable elements and constructability of the proposed design as cost effective as possible.  Teams should clearly demonstrate the economic benefit to selecting their project.  Economic feasibility will strongly influence selection of the winning design.  Efforts to identify innovative funding sources are encouraged.

There is no budget for the design competition.  However, this is a Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Property Acquisition and Disposition Division (PADD) project.  The DHCD website is informative on the definitions of Affordable Dwelling Unit and Inclusionary Zoning.  There are maximum rental and purchase prices for associated with each.  

Economic viability will be a major determining factor in the judging process.  A minimum of 30% of the units will developed as affordable for households earning up to 80% Area Median Income (AMI). The remaining units will be offered at market-rate and priced in accordance with comparable units in the neighborhood. Preference will be given to designs that accommodate 2+ bedroom units.

For this competition, the definition of Townhome includes detached and semi-detached homes. Please note that the city prefers to have more units to generate more income.

For DHCD’s Ivy City project, the single family development cost averaged $292,000. This project was in close proximity to Deanwood.  Development Finance Division (DFD) within DHCD has provided this full budget from the Ivy City project for reference.  Please note this budget is several years old and needs to be adjusted for inflation.

Another more general guide is this DFD development per unit and SF cost charts:

Table 8: Maximum Construction Costs per Gross Square Foot
Type of Building New Construction Substantial Rehabilitation Moderate Rehabilitation
Townhouses $135 $120 $85
Garden Apartments/Condos 115 105 75
Elevator Buildings (≤5 floors) and public facilities 130 115 85
Mid-rise Buildings (6 or more floors) 160 140 100
Table 9: Maximum Total Development Costs Per Residential Unit
  Studios/1BR 2 BR 3+BRs
Total Development Cost Limits $230,000 $250,000   $270,000

Please note that this is a design competition not a Request For Proposal.   

Materials Requirements

The Living Building Challenge is a building certification program, a design philosophy, and an advocacy platform.  A primary focus is to help create more transparency in the building industry.  The Materials Petal containing the strict Red List is perhaps the most challenging petal of the Living Building Challenge.  The Red List is a comprehensive list of materials and chemicals too harmful to be included in a living building.  One extremely helpful tool created by the ILFI is the Declare program.  Declare is a transparent resource database that includes products submitted by manufacturers that meet Red List qualifications.  Building ingredients are listed much like the nutrients in food labels.  Another tool is the Health Product Declaration (HPD) standard.  HPD helps manufacturers report the content and associated health information for  building products and materials.

2015 DCALDC Declare/HPD Manufacturer Form Letter for Entrants

To help advocate for additional participation by manufacturers, competition entrants are required to contact any one product manufacturer to request the creation of a Declare label or HPD Standard for a single product.  It is not required that the chosen manufacturer agree to participate, only that teams advocate for the transparency standard.  Teams are required to document the feedback that is received and provide this for discussion at Charrette 3.   It is recommended that teams reach out to their chosen manufacturer early.  This process sometimes takes several persistent and diligent attempts to receive a response.

Submission Requirements

Download Submission Requirements & Presentation Format – PDF

Each entry submitted for judging must include the following graphics and text:

  1.  LBC Strategy Narrative (1,000 words max) – Describe the region and  specific challenges & solutions to fulfilling the Living Building Challenge Imperatives.  Where proposed designs may violate local regulations, identify strategies for overcoming barriers.
  2.  Economic Feasibility Study Narrative (1,000 words max.)
  3.  Materials List for major building components with  specification and/or drawings.
  4.  Identify if products on the submitted Materials List are in the current Declare Product Database.  Provide manufacturer’s advocacy for at least one item on the Materials List that is not in the Declare Product Database using the 2015 DCALDC Declare/HPD Manufacturer Form Letter for Entrants.  Teams should bring documentation to Charrette 3 for discussion. 
  5.  Systems diagrams for Energy & Water design.
  6.  Site Plan/Roof Plan.
  7.  Floor Plan(s): Typical & Unique Floors
  8.  Exterior Elevations and/or Exterior Renderings (4)
  9.  Building / Site Sections (2)
  10.  Wall Section showing a fully detailed wall assembly
  11.  Interior Renderings (2)

Presentation Format

(2) 24″ x 36″ boards, vertical format for diagrams and images.

8.5″ x 11″ for LBC Strategy Narrative, Economic Feasibility Narrative, Specifications, Materials List, Declare and HPD submissions.

Flash Drive, CD or DVD including complete submission in digital format.


National Charrette Institute provides one of the best definitions of a Charrette.  At the core of their definition is a “holistic approach to healthy transformative community change” and that “the best plans are made by many hands.”  They state that the number one way to achieve this change is through working collaboratively.   

As stated in the Competition Brief, each of the 2015 DC Affordable Design Competition Charrettes will include presentations by local expert guest speakers on each of the 7 Petals of LBC version 3.0Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty.  Following the speakers, there will be a pin up and discussion of each team’s work. 

Each team is required to have at least one team member in attendance for each Charrette to present the current state of their designs.  Refer to Timeline for Charrette dates, times and locations.

For competition Charrettes entrants will pin up progress drawings in small work groups.  As topics are selected to discuss, Guest Speakers and Ambassador/Facilitators will circulate and provide input to entrants to increase the level of expertise of each project.


After teams have submitted their entries, presentations will be evaluated by a panel of judges independent of the DC LBCC.  Judging will be based upon the following criteria:

  • Display the design’s potential to meet all 20 Imperatives of the LBC v3.0 and the competition program requirements.
  • Display the design’s potential for development as affordable housing.
  • Where proposed designs may violate local regulations, submission materials should identify strategies for overcoming barriers.

The winning entry will be announced at the Awards Reception Details to be determined.