Apr 27, 2015

EPA Names Winners of Campus RainWorks Challenge

Teams from the University of Maryland and the University of Illinois at Chicago won first place in their respective categories

EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the University of Maryland as a winner of its third annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design competition created to engage college and university students in reinventing water infrastructure. Student teams proposed innovative green infrastructure designs to reduce storm water pollution and develop sustainable communities.

Storm water is one of the nation’s most widespread challenges to water quality. Large volumes of storm water pollute the nation’s streams, rivers and lakes, posing a threat to human health and the environment and contributing to downstream flooding. Green infrastructure captures pollutants by filtering storm water through soils and retaining storm water on site.

EPA invited student teams to compete in two design categories — the Master Plan category, which examines how green infrastructure could be integrated into a broad area of a school’s campus, and the Demonstration Project category, which examines how green infrastructure could be integrated into a particular site on the team’s campus.

EPA awarded first prize in the Campus RainWorks Challenge’s demonstration project category to a team from the University of Maryland, College Park. The team’s design focuses on a prominent 7-acre site next to the university’s historic Memorial Chapel. The site’s storm water challenges include excess sediment runoff and flooding. To capture and treat storm water from adjacent parking lots and rooftops, the team proposed to redesign the site by disconnecting existing storm pipes and directing flow into a green infrastructure treatment train designed to treat 100% of a one-year storm event.

The team’s design replaces traditional lawn with a meadow landscape that includes rain gardens, tiered plantings, bioretention, bioswales and rain gardens. This would provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insect species, and serve as an outdoor classroom and contemplative landscape for visitors and the university community.

EPA created the challenge in 2012 to inspire the next generation of landscape architects, planners and engineers to develop innovative green infrastructure systems that mitigate urban storm water impacts while supporting vibrant and sustainable communities.

The University of Maryland team was comprised of six students from the disciplines of landscape architecture and civil engineering. Their design goals were to:

  • Improve storm water management and infrastructure;
  • Increase biodiversity; and
  • Increase social connections on campus.

The team’s submission was unique in adding high value to the campus landscape and addressing storm water management issues in a high-priority watershed.

EPA also recognized:

  • University of Illinois at Chicago – Team awarded first prize in the master plan category;
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Team awarded second prize in the master plan category;
  • University of Maryland, College Park – Team awarded honorable mention in the master plan category;
  • Queens College, City University of New York – Team awarded second prize in the demonstration project category; and
  • Georgetown University – Team awarded honorable mention in the demonstration project category.