DuPage County and SCARCE Host 16th Annual Sustainable Design Challenge


Students from several DuPage County high schools showcased their green building projects to the public at the 16th Annual Sustainable Design Challenge held April 5 at the DuPage County Administration Building in Wheaton.

Sponsored by DuPage County Stormwater Management, SCARCE coordinates the annual event, which encourages students to construct model buildings and landscapes using environmental and water-friendly design practices.

Participating secondary schools included York Community (Elmhurst), Glenbard East (Lombard), Wheaton Academy (West Chicago), Montini Catholic (Lombard), Hinsdale South (Darien) and Hinsdale Central.

Additionally, two teams of students from Willowbrook High School (Villa Park) participated virtually.

“For the past two years, we’ve been hosting the challenge virtually, so I’m extremely excited to once again welcome students in person for the first time since 2019,” said Jim Zay, chairman of the Stormwater Management Committee. of DuPage County. “I think I speak for the entire DuPage County Council when I say this is one of our favorite events every year in the county.”

Twenty-three teams of students presented models of their designs in person to a jury, as well as county council members and county and municipal staff.

Students discussed design elements that made their buildings sustainable, including renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines and water conservation elements such as native plant landscaping, rain barrels and other green infrastructure for stormwater management.


During the Sustainable Design Challenge, students toured green practices on the DuPage County campus and learned about the county’s flood control facilities.
– Courtesy of DuPage County Stormwater Management

The DuPage County Stormwater Committee will recognize the best designs at its next meeting on May 3.

Kay McKeen, Founder and Executive Director of SCARCE, attributes much of the event’s popularity to schools advancing science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) education.

“We have great teachers in DuPage County who encourage students to explore STEM fields both in and out of the classroom,” McKeen said. “Teachers are constantly learning about new technologies and sustainable practices, which are then passed on to students. You can see the enthusiasm at all levels.”

During the event, students also learned about sustainable practices throughout the DuPage County campus, including a green roof, rain garden, restored wetland, and new pollinator garden.

“We offered both in-person and virtual participation options this year, and 23 of the 25 teams chose to present their projects in person, which allowed them to visit real-world applications of some of their project components,” added Zay.

For more information on the Sustainable Design Challenge and past projects, visit www.scarce.org/sustainable-design-2/.


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