U.C. Berkeley Recognized in U.S. EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the winners of its fourth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design competition created to engage college students in developing green infrastructure systems to reduce stormwater pollution and build resilience to climate change. The University of California, Berkeley took 2nd place in the Demonstration Project category.
Stormwater is one of the nation’s most widespread challenges to water quality. Large volumes of stormwater pollute our nation’s streams, rivers and lakes, posing a threat to human health and the environment, and contribute to downstream flooding. 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.
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.
The University of California, Berkeley team chose a creek site on campus that was the university’s first botanical garden, with many artificial landscape features that cause drainage problems. While it is home to a legacy of exotic plants, the site lacks habitat conducive to supporting native species and reducing runoff. The team proposes a design that will store 37,000 cubic feet of stormwater runoff, increase pervious surface are by 33 percent and increase native plant species. The design has potential to reduce flooding and restore the ecological diversity of the area.
The other challenge winners were the University of Texas at Arlington (1st place, Master Plan), the University of Maryland, College Park (1st place, Demonstration Project), and the Stevens Institute of Technology (2nd place, Master Plan). EPA also recognized teams from the University of Texas at Arlington (Master Plan) and Northeastern University (Demonstration Project) as honorable mentions for their entries.
EPA will announce the fifth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge in the summer of 2016.
Green infrastructure tools and techniques include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems. Utilizing these tools decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems. Communities are increasingly using innovative green infrastructure to supplement “gray” infrastructure such as pipes, filters, and ponds. Green infrastructure reduces water pollution while increasing economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings, and open space.
More information: https://www.epa.gov/green-infrastructure/2015-campus-rainworks-challenge