16th Annual Sustainable Design Challenge – Accepted!

Apr 07 2022

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“There is so much more to stormwater than I ever knew!”

“I learned about carbon-cured cement.”

“You can actually build a constructed wetland around your house and recycle your grey water.”

High school students competing in this year’s Sustainable Design Challenge had a lot to say about all they had learned in preparation for the competition.

Seven high schools and 25 teams participated in the hybrid (in-person and virtual) event which took place on Tuesday, April 5th. The event was hosted by SCARCE, DuPage County Stormwater Management, and the DuPage County Board. Each team constructed a model of a building using sustainable practices which consider stormwater management and conservation of water and energy.

Not a simple task considering the judges were professionals from local engineering, construction, and architectural firms. This year’s business sponsors were Wight & Company, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Hey and Associates, and AIA Northeast Illinois.

“I’m so impressed by how well versed the students are about information I didn’t even know about until I was in my career,” said Meghan Adams from Hey & Associates.

Claire Kissane, from DuPage County Stormwater Management, agreed. “Did you see the building with the wheels in the gutters to create energy? I’ve never seen anything like that!”

After students had the opportunity to present to the judges, they could ask questions as well.

And they had no trouble sharing ideas about what they learned.

“You really need to understand the site. Like how many days of sunlight there are and the average rainfall.”

“I never realized how many toxins there are in paint and furniture.”

“I learned that there are pros and cons to most aspects of sustainability. You have to choose carefully.”

Bob Blaus, an educator from York Community High School, Elmhurst, whose students have participated for years, always feels energized by what he sees at the competition. “Green building is the way of the future. This is great stuff for our students and the planet!”

Adam Hallihan teaches Advanced Placement Environmental Sciences at Hinsdale South High School in Darien. “The Sustainable Design Challenge is a great application of the things we are teaching in class. It generates a lot of student ‘buy-in’ which teachers are always working to create.”

Mr. Hallihan acknowledges that teaching environmental science can be difficult at times. “When we cover environmental issues, and all the challenges, it’s always good to have some positives to offer. This challenge helps students really see how they can bring about positive change.”

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