Pervious, permeable pavement materials prevail in EPA RainWorks Challenge

Winning projects from an annual Environmental Protection Agency competition that engages college students in on-campus green infrastructure design demonstrate the health and environmental benefits of good stormwater management.

“Campus RainWorks Challenge encourages students to transform classroom knowledge into innovative and replicable solutions,” says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, crediting 2019 program winners and the “hard work of all of the teams that competed.” Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution, he adds, and managing it remains a complex matter for local communities across the country.

Campus RainWorks Challenge awards $5,000 and $2,500 faculty and student team prizes. It tasks college or university participants with applying green infrastructure design principles on the quad and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration; more than 700 teams have participated since 2012. EPA invited this year’s student teams to compete in two design categories: Master Plan, examining how green infrastructure can be broadly integrated across campus; and, Demonstration Project, focusing on how green infrastructure can address stormwater pollution at a specific campus site. With the help of a faculty advisor, teams focused their expertise, creativity and energy on stormwater management challenges and showcased the environmental, economic and social benefits of green infrastructure.

Placing first and second in the 2019 Campus RainWorks Master Plan category are teams from Florida International University for “Coastal Eco-Waters: Adapting for a Resilient Campus” and University of Arizona for “Against the Grain.” First and second place Demonstration Project category teams hail from University of California at Los Angeles for “Little Steps to a Sustainable Future” and Arizona State University for “Ready! Set! Activate!” EPA also recognized Michigan State University and University of California, Berkeley teams with Master Plan and Demonstration Project honorable mentions.

EPA-cited green infrastructure tools and techniques for stormwater management include permeable pavers, pervious concrete, green roofs, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, habitat conservation, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems. All decrease local waterway pollution by treating rain where it falls and keeping tainted stormwater from entering sewers. Communities are increasingly using innovative green infrastructure to supplement conveyance structures and

Board raw
The UCLA team’s “Little Steps to a Sustainable Future” scheme topped the Demonstration Project category.
Concrete weirs and permeable pavers attend “Architecture as Irrigation,” one component of the University of Arizona team’s “Against the Grain” scheme, which took Master Plan second place.