The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 20 announced the winners of its fifth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national college competition to engage the next generation to design solutions for stormwater pollution using green infrastructure. Student teams proposed designs that help aid innovative problem solving for their campus and community. The Campus RainWorks Challenge engages students and faculty members at colleges and universities to apply green infrastructure principles and design, foster interdisciplinary collaboration and increase the use of green infrastructure on campuses across the nation.

“Our Campus RainWorks Challenge winners are the next generation workforce of green infrastructure designers and planners,” said Mike Shapiro, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “All the submissions included innovative approaches to stormwater management. I want to congratulate Kansas State University and the City College of New York for their winning submissions.”
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.

Teams of undergraduate and graduate students, working with a faculty advisor, developed innovative green infrastructure designs in one of the categories, showing how managing stormwater at its source can benefit the campus community and the environment.

Judges from EPA, and members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (Reston. Va.), American Society of Landscape Architects (Washington, D.C.) and the Water Environment Federation (Alexandra, Va.) generously volunteered their time to evaluate the design proposals submitted by student teams.

2016 winners

Kansas State University (1st Place Demonstration Project Category)
The team’s “Stronger Quinlan” project proposes repairing an historic campus nature area with green infrastructure elements to reduce stormwater pollution and flash flooding of Campus Creek. By installing rainwater harvesting and permeable pavement as well as planting trees and native plants, the students estimate their design could reduce stormwater runoff by 46 percent and capture 597,000 gallons of water per year for irrigation.

City of College of New York (1st Place Master Plan Category)
The “Castor Project” is named after the school’s mascot, the Castor canadesis, more commonly known as a beaver. Taking a cue from the beaver’s role as a natural water manager, the team designed a master plan for campus-wide stormwater management. The plan calls for increasing tree canopy 15 percent by adding 89 trees and impervious area 38 percent by adding 23,000 square feet of permeable surface. A water storage tank could capture up to 3000 cubic feet of stormwater for gray water uses.

University of Maryland (2nd Place Demonstration Project Category)
The team project, “(Un)loading Nutrients”, proposes transforming a campus loading dock into a campus amenity that also manages stormwater. The plan calls for 6660 square feet of new plantings for bioretention and reducing impervious surface by 18 percent. The students redesign of the loading dock and adjacent parking lot creates a safer pedestrian walkway between a dining hall and classroom building.

University of Cincinnati (2nd Place Master Plan Category)
Titled “ReMEDiation”, the team’s master plan envisions installation of green infrastructure best management practices that mitigate stormwater runoff on campus and reduce flooding and combined sewer overflows into the Ohio River. The team estimates that enhanced green spaces can reduce stormwater runoff by 25 percent and increase community benefits of urban gardens and nature trails.

Two first place student teams will be awarded $2000 to be split evenly among the members. The faculty advisors will receive $3000 for their institution. Two second place student teams will be awarded $1000 to be split evenly among the members. The faculty advisors will receive $2000 for their institution.

EPA also recognized the teams from

  • the University of New Mexico (Honorable Mention Demonstration Project category) and
  • East Georgia State College (Honorable Mention Master Plan category)

EPA plans to announce the sixth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge in the summer of 2017.