DuPage County, SCARCE hold 16th annual Sustainable Design Challenge

  • DuPage County Stormwater Management Committee Chair Jim Zay learns about a sustainable apartment complex designed by students at Wheaton Academy (West Chicago).

    DuPage County Stormwater Management Committee Chair Jim Zay learns about a sustainable apartment complex designed by students at Wheaton Academy (West Chicago). Courtesy of DuPage County Stormwater Management

 
 
Posted4/15/2022 12:25 PM

Students from several DuPage County high schools displayed their green building projects to the public at the 16th annual Sustainable Design Challenge held April 5 at DuPage County's administration building in Wheaton.

Sponsored by DuPage County Stormwater Management, SCARCE coordinates the annual event, which encourages students to construct building and landscape models using environmental and water-friendly design practices.

 

Participating high schools included York Community (Elmhurst), Glenbard East (Lombard), Wheaton Academy (West Chicago), Montini Catholic (Lombard), Hinsdale South (Darien), and Hinsdale Central.

In addition, two student teams from Willowbrook High School (Villa Park) participated virtually.

"For the past two years, we have held the Challenge virtually, so I'm extremely excited to welcome students back in person for the first time since 2019," said DuPage County Stormwater Management Committee Chairman Jim Zay. "I think I speak on behalf of the entire DuPage County Board when I say this is one of our favorite events each year at the county."

Twenty-three student teams presented models of their designs in-person to a panel of judges, as well as county board members and county and municipal staff.

Students discussed the design elements that made their buildings sustainable, including renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines and water conservation elements such as native plant landscaping, rain barrels and other green infrastructure for stormwater management.

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During the Sustainable Design Challenge, students toured green practices on DuPage County's campus, as well as learned more about the County's flood control facilities.
During the Sustainable Design Challenge, students toured green practices on DuPage County's campus, as well as learned more about the County's flood control facilities. - Courtesy of DuPage County Stormwater Management

The DuPage County Stormwater Management Committee will recognize the top designs at their next meeting on May 3.

Kay McKeen, founder and executive director of SCARCE, credits much of the popularity of this event to schools advancing science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) education.

"We have great teachers in DuPage County who encourage students to explore STEM fields both in and out of the classroom," McKeen said. "The teachers never stop learning about new technology and sustainable practices, which are then passed down to the students. You can see the enthusiasm on all levels."

During the event, students also learned about sustainable practices throughout DuPage County's campus, including a green roof, rain garden, restored wetland and a new pollinator garden.

"We offered in-person and virtual participation options this year, and 23 of the 25 teams opted to present their projects in person, which allowed them to tour real-life applications of some of their project components," added Zay.

For more information about the Sustainable Design Challenge and past projects, visit www.scarce.org/sustainable-design-2/.

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