Students from several DuPage County high schools displayed their green building projects to the public at the ninth annual Sustainable Design Challenge on Tuesday, held at DuPage County's Administration Building in Wheaton.
Sponsored by DuPage County Stormwater Management, SCARCE coordinates the event each year to encourage local schools to explore sustainability topics with students. Participating high schools included Wheaton Warrenville South, York Community (Elmhurst), Glenbard East (Lombard) and College Preparatory School of America (Lombard).
"The Sustainable Design Challenge has become a staple in DuPage County, and I continue to be impressed each year by the students' innovative concepts," said County Board Chairman Dan Cronin. "Additionally, this year, students were able to show us these ideas using advanced technology displaying videos and 3D images of their designs."
More than 20 student groups presented models of their designs to the public, County Board members and County and municipal staff. Students also explained the design elements that made their building sustainable, including renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines, water conservation elements using native plant landscaping and rain barrels and green infrastructure for stormwater management.
"This event provides students with the opportunity to illustrate the sustainable and resilient practices they are learning about in the classroom," said Stormwater Management Planning Committee Chairman Jim Zay. "They really embrace being the teachers and subject matter experts in this situation.
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.
"Local high schools have begun to include this event into their curriculum, and students look forward to enrolling in these classes and developing innovative designs," said McKeen. "Bringing the designs out of the classroom also gives students an opportunity to meet professionals in STEM fields who can offer advice on college majors and various careers."
During the event, students also saw real world applications of sustainable practices, including DuPage County's green roof and restored wetland, as well as plans for rain gardens and bioswales in the landscape of the Health Department's new building.
For more information about the Sustainable Design Challenge and past projects, please visit www.scarceecoed.org/environmental-education/special-projects/sustainability-challenge.