The Net-Zero First Design Studio & Competition

A free course offered by the College of Architecture & the Built Environment

Experience Jefferson’s award-winning MS in Sustainable Design program with our free The Net-Zero First Design Studio and Competition. This studio has been adapted from the original 4 credit course taught in the College of Architecture and the Built Environment, into an introductory course perfect for people who are interested in getting involved in sustainable design. Scholarships and awards are available for those who complete the course.*

About the Course

In this twelve-week course students will learn how to design a net-zero energy building. Topics include research and pre-planning activities, preliminary design, passive design, building envelope design, active systems optimization, site design, energy modeling, daylight analysis and more.

While this free course does not qualify for college credit, it will be taught as a full college level course with learning objectives and assignments just like the actual college course. The level of interaction with instructors may be lower than in the actual course.

This course runs from May 24 – August 15, 2021. For more information email


This course is led by Rob Fleming, AIA, LEED AP, NOMA. Rob has over 25 years of experience in teaching and practicing sustainable design. You can read more about him here. In addition, an array of other experts will be co-teaching with Rob. Their names and levels of expertise will be shared as the start date of the course gets closer.

*Scholarships are available to students who complete the course, and who are accepted to any program within the College of Architecture and the Built Environment, and enroll by Fall 2022. Cash prizes will be awarded in various categories. See more here

Rich Vilabrera Jr is a Brooklyn native who moved to Philadelphia to obtain his Bachelor of Architecture from Jefferson. Rich, a Certified Content Developer for Sketchup, is a designer who is invested in research based architecture using modern day technology to explore the future of architecture. Currently, he is the Design Technology Specialist at KieranTimberlake focusing on BIM's place in the design process. 

KieranTimberlake has an equal emphasis on research, communications, and the built environment. Their projects include the programming, planning, and design of new structures as well as the conservation, renovation, and transformation of existing buildings. KieranTimberlake also develops application-specific environmental analysis and prediction tools, conduct building and environmental monitoring, and design novel building and envelope assemblies. 

Rich is the SketchUp modeling expert for this course, ensuring models are real-time ready for Sefaria to get accurate EUI metrics.