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Sustainable Design Challenge 2023

May 03 2023

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“New, Young Minds Bringing New Ideas.”

(May, 2023) Students from seven DuPage high schools, constituting twenty-five teams, had the opportunity to present their models at the 17th annual Sustainable Design Challenge (SDC) this past April. The SDC is a unique event created by SCARCE and DuPage County Stormwater Management to promote STEM learning related to sustainability.  It combines individual investigation, group exchange and hands-on experience. Students research sustainability, then create model buildings that suit their chosen environment.

Zero waste lunch was served.

The morning of the event, students present to a panel of local engineers, architects, and builders. Later in the day, a zero-waste lunch is served by SCARCE, demonstrating how large events can also incorporate sustainable practices. Before the awards are presented, students tour the DuPage County Government campus and see examples of sustainability in action including the green roof, a restored wetland, and pollinator garden.

“It was amazing,” said Glenbard East student, Annalee K. “The green tour taught us about reservoirs and flood control. It was fun seeing how things are done in the real world.”

Teachers attending the event were equally inspired. “I actually got emotional. To see the students so passionate –it’s incredible,” said Elizabeth Knoch from York school.

“It is great to see the energy of these young minds,” said Sarah Hunn, Director, at DuPage County Stormwater Management. “I’ve never met a judge who didn’t learn something new here! This is why we need a varied, generational workforce. New, young minds bringing new ideas.”

Benet Academy attended the event for the first time this year. Linda Volin, Science teacher and team sponsor, was thrilled at how engaged her students were. “My Environmental Club students created a team. Now, they’re really excited to go back to the club and present about the Challenge.” She grinned, “And they’re already talking about what they’ll do next year!”

2023 Sustainable Design Challenge Sponsors

  • AIA Northeast Illinois
  • Christopher B. Burke
  • College of DuPage
  • Wight & Company
  • W.R. Meadows, Inc.

2023 Sustainable Design Challenge Winners

Best Overall LEED Design and $500 prize: Team #21 The Bug-Eyed Peas,  Hinsdale South High School  Claire Petrosius and Grace Koziol. Sponsor: Adam Hallihan

This innovative, fast-food restaurant model included sustainable features such as thermoelectric generators which capture excess heat from ovens to be repurposed elsewhere, paint and bricks that reflect sun rays to cool naturally, and native clover plantings, surrounding the exterior.  It also incorporated unique, bug-based food items and eco-friendly customer incentives to ensure its “sustainability.”

Judges said, “Love the innovation and unique idea of normalizing bugs as food to tie in sustainable food options.”  “Very clear that you researched and understood the material!”

Second Place Overall LEED Design and $250.00 prize: Team #19 Megan and Katie, Wheaton Academy  Megan Lindberg and Katie Montana. Sponsor: Josh Burick   

This restaurant incorporates several sustainable features including a vertical garden with a rainwater collection, filtration and storage system.  It is powered 100% by solar energy, and is built with reclaimed brick and wood in an effort to conserve resources and use healthy materials. 

Judges said, “Really appreciated the flexibility of the concept.”  “Feasible project with well designed components and defined scope.”

Best Stormwater Design and $250 prize: Team #22 Hobbit Holes for Humanity, Hinsdale South High School  Owen Atkinson Sponsor: Kristin Kaduk

This underground home incorporated important stormwater management and water efficiency features such as the use of native plants in landscaping, as well as a one-of-a-kind gutter system inserted into the hillside.  A main focus of this model was to maintain the natural landscape in an effort to preserve precious wildlife habitats.

Judges said, “The underground design was awesome, very unique.  The gutter system collecting runoff to reuse was brilliant.”

Best Energy Design and $250 prize: Team #9 South Facing Windows  Glenbard East High School Victor Hanson Sponsor: David Krodel 

This home’s use of geothermal, wind and both tilt-able and rotating, solar panel energy is very efficient.  Other sustainable features and materials of this model include insulation made out of repurposed denim, light bulbs that change both color and brightness based on specific times and needs, as well as keeping the main living areas on the floor with the most windows. 

Judges said, “Attention to detail was excellent. Nice job incorporating unique technologies and thinking through all the details of how the home will operate. It was great to see you thought through cost and feasibility.”  “Clearly did extensive research.  Impressive!”

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