State championship banners representing accomplishments in everything from football to badminton are on display at Naperville North High School.
Now it's time to hang another banner, although this one has nothing to do with sports. The school's latest winning team was named the 2013 Mock Firms Illinois State Champion in Home Design.
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Four students in Rebecca DiOrio's architecture and pre-engineering class recently captured that distinction by outperforming 27 teams at the annual competition sponsored by Chicago Architecture Today.
In early November, students were given a choice to enter the competition or complete a similar final project assigned by DiOrio. Juniors Evan Harrison, Christopher Greco, Jon Quinn and sophomore Lauren Hanson stepped up to compete.
They then spent the next six months working with Diorio and outside professional Jon Murawski, of DLA Architects in Itasca, to design and model a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standard home that could be built on an available lot near a college campus anywhere in the United States.
Hanson said the group initially focused on empty lots in California but quickly realized land prices were significantly cheaper in some areas of the East Coast. The students eventually identified a one-acre lot in Amherst, Mass., less than a mile form the University of Massachusetts campus and got to work.
"The essence of the project was we had to design a house for a college student that focused on environmental friendliness ..." Harrison said. "We ended up designing a house with a very modular design, which helps with the efficiency. A lot of other teams designed regular houses but ours was special. It has a contemporary design, it's very modern and it uses all of the latest technologies we have in construction."
Greco said the home's design features a grassy roof, which doubles as a leisure space, wind turbines on the perimeter and photovoltaic film, which collects energy much like solar panels but in a more efficient manner.
"The asking price of this house (estimated at $1 million) is steep but all of these features will pay off eventually," Greco said.
The features paid off for the team, as well, with judges scoring their project highest in the state and good enough to be a runner-up in the region.
Aside from the design, Quinn said the team had the advantage of a new 3-D printer that produced a scaled, and color-detailed model judges could physically see and touch.
"We're all learning how to use this amazing tool and so far it has served us well," he said.
Back in the classroom, DiOrio said she couldn't be more proud of the group, her first team to win the state championship.
"We've had plenty of runners-up over the years but these guys were amazing," she said.
When asked if the accomplishment earned them an A for the semester, she shrugged.
"Pretty much," she said. "What other option do I have at this point?"