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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Press Release

Contact Information: Mary Mitros 630-407-6706

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DuPage County and SCARCE Hold 10th Annual Sustainable Design Challenge

Students from several DuPage County high schools displayed their environmentally-friendly building projects to the public at the 10th Annual Sustainable Design Challenge on Tuesday, held at DuPage County’s Administration Building in Wheaton.

Sponsored by DuPage County, 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), Addison Trail and Hinsdale Central.

“It’s exciting to see how the Sustainable Design Challenge has grown over the past decade,” said County Board Chairman Dan Cronin. “I applaud the diligence of teachers and students who advance our yearly competition by employing advanced technology to create such innovative designs.  The teams always impress us with their articulate and compelling presentations.  It’s a credit to everyone involved.” 

This year’s was the largest event, as more than 40 student groups presented models of their designs to the public, County Board members, local professionals and County and municipal staff. Students also explained the design elements that made their projects sustainable, including renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines, water conservation elements using native plant landscaping, rain barrels and green infrastructure for stormwater management.

“The designs this year not only incorporate sustainable building elements as a way to be “green,” but they also provide multiple advantages,” said Stormwater Management Planning Committee Chairman Jim Zay. “For example, rain gardens featured in some designs provide ecological, educational and health benefits.  This approach demonstrates that students are thinking of the real-world implications of their designs.”

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

“STEM education in and out of the classroom is extremely helpful for students when they are deciding on college majors and future careers,” said McKeen. “To foster this, local high schools are expanding their STEM offerings, and this event has become a staple at several schools.” 

During the event, students also toured sustainable practices throughout DuPage County’s campus, including a green roof, rain garden and restored wetland, as well as several features which promote sustainability within the DuPage Health Department’s Community Center. 

For more information about the Sustainable Design Challenge and past projects, please visit