By Nancy Stoner
Last October I visited the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a competition for college and university students throughout the country and the world to design environmentally friendly homes. The Solar Decathlon is a chance for students and faculty from diverse disciplines and backgrounds to collaborate on visionary and inventive ways to build comfortable, aesthetically pleasing houses that have a lower environmental footprint by utilizing energy efficiency, renewable energy, water efficiency approaches, and recycled building materials in home design.
I was especially inspired by last year’s winning home from the University of Maryland, which also included green infrastructure and rainwater capture to manage stormwater on site and improve water quality. College students are the designers, builders and policy-makers of our future, and I wanted to find a way to capitalize on their creativity to provide innovations in the use of green infrastructure for integrated water management. That is why I’m proud to announce that EPA is starting the new Campus RainWorks Challenge this year.
EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge is a design competition open to colleges and universities to compete to develop innovative approaches to stormwater management. This competition will help raise awareness of green design and planning approaches among students, faculty and staff, and train the next generation of landscape architects, planners, and engineers in green infrastructure principles and design. Effective green infrastructure tools and techniques include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems.
In this challenge, student teams, working with a faculty advisor, will submit design plans for a proposed green infrastructure project for their campus. For this first year’s competition, winning entries will be selected by EPA and announced in April 2013, and winning teams will earn a cash prize of $1,500 – $2,500, as well as $8,000 – $11,000 in funds for their faculty advisor to conduct research on green infrastructure. To participate, teams must register by October 4, and entries must be submitted by December 14.
The Campus RainWorks Challenge will provide a great opportunity for students to apply clever, cutting-edge approaches to stormwater management, while also encouraging the use of green infrastructure projects on college and university campuses throughout the country. I am really looking forward to seeing the results of this competition in its first year and for many years to come.
About the author: Nancy Stoner is the Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water