Earth Day Reflections on the Campus Rainworks Challenge

 

My eldest daughter is attending a collaborative, exciting, and dynamic high school.  When I pass through the halls of her school and see the young energy, enthusiasm, and creativity flowing from person to person and bouncing off the walls I feel a bit jealous.  It would be really fun to be back in school again.

 

A similar feeling welled up inside as I participated in the second round judging process for the 2013 Campus Rainworks Challenge.  Ten student teams passed round one judging in the Site Design Plan category.  They provided green infrastructure and low impact development design concepts for campus libraries, art museums, common areas, court yards, transportation links, and parking areas.  Six student teams passed round one judging in the Master Plan category.  They provided conceptual plans for larger areas of their campuses.

 

The submittals illustrated interactive art, water-powered sculptures, landscaped bioretention areas, information kiosks, and green walls.  The submissions were presented in a wide variety of video formats.  Vibrant renderings and creative video production techniques allowed me to experience a bit of the fun, collaboration, and exciting process the teams must have experienced as they developed their designs.

 

I watched the videos.  I reviewed the design submittals.  I felt the enthusiasm.  Then in late February 2014 I hopped on a plane to Reagan International Airport and then the METRO to visit EPA Headquarters near the Federal Triangle METRO stop.  As the METRO smoothly carried me past the Netflix House of Cards posters in every station (did METRO know about what happens in Season 2 Episode 1?) I realized that I had never been to EPA Headquarter in my 23 years in the environmental engineering consulting field.  Now I was really excited.

 

When I arrived I marveled at high ceilings and neoclassical design of the building.  Built in the early 1930s, the building originally was the headquarters of the U.S. Post Office Department, before its name was changed to the U.S. Postal Service in 1971.

 

Truth be told: it was challenging to determine winners.  The American Society of Landscape Architects provided Michael Vergason and Dennis Nola as judges.  Daniel Christian and I served as judges from the Water Environment Federation, and Robert Goo and Mike Borst joined the judging team from U.S. EPA.  Led by Tamara Mittman, our EPA facilitator, we debated and discussed the merits of all submissions.  At the end of morning of heated discussion we provided a consensus list of the top three submittals in both the Master Plan and Site Design categories.  The winners were selected by Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, U.S. EPA, and I look forward to congratulating them and all the participating teams. Meanwhile, Happy Earth Day!

 04/22/2014Permanent link

Earth Day Reflections on the Campus Rainworks Challenge  ()
 

My eldest daughter is attending a collaborative, exciting, and dynamic high school.  When I pass through the halls of her school and see the young energy, enthusiasm, and creativity flowing from person to person and bouncing off the walls I feel a bit jealous.

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Earth Day Reflections on the Campus Rainworks Challenge

 Permanent link

Earth Day Reflections on the Campus Rainworks Challenge

 

My eldest daughter is attending a collaborative, exciting, and dynamic high school.  When I pass through the halls of her school and see the young energy, enthusiasm, and creativity flowing from person to person and bouncing off the walls I feel a bit jealous.  It would be really fun to be back in school again.

 

A similar feeling welled up inside as I participated in the second round judging process for the 2013 Campus Rainworks Challenge.  Ten student teams passed round one judging in the Site Design Plan category.  They provided green infrastructure and low impact development design concepts for campus libraries, art museums, common areas, court yards, transportation links, and parking areas.  Six student teams passed round one judging in the Master Plan category.  They provided conceptual plans for larger areas of their campuses.

 

The submittals illustrated interactive art, water-powered sculptures, landscaped bioretention areas, information kiosks, and green walls.  The submissions were presented in a wide variety of video formats.  Vibrant renderings and creative video production techniques allowed me to experience a bit of the fun, collaboration, and exciting process the teams must have experienced as they developed their designs.

 

I watched the videos.  I reviewed the design submittals.  I felt the enthusiasm.  Then in late February 2014 I hopped on a plane to Reagan International Airport and then the METRO to visit EPA Headquarters near the Federal Triangle METRO stop.  As the METRO smoothly carried me past the Netflix House of Cards posters in every station (did METRO know about what happens in Season 2 Episode 1?) I realized that I had never been to EPA Headquarter in my 23 years in the environmental engineering consulting field.  Now I was really excited.

 

When I arrived I marveled at high ceilings and neoclassical design of the building.  Built in the early 1930s, the building originally was the headquarters of the U.S. Post Office Department, before its name was changed to the U.S. Postal Service in 1971.

 

Truth be told: it was challenging to determine winners.  The American Society of Landscape Architects provided Michael Vergason and Dennis Nola as judges.  Daniel Christian and I served as judges from the Water Environment Federation, and Robert Goo and Mike Borst joined the judging team from U.S. EPA.  Led by Tamara Mittman, our EPA facilitator, we debated and discussed the merits of all submissions.  At the end of morning of heated discussion we provided a consensus list of the top three submittals in both the Master Plan and Site Design categories.  The winners were selected by Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, U.S. EPA, and I look forward to congratulating them and all the participating teams. Meanwhile, Happy Earth Day!

Posted by Jonathan Byus at 04/22/2014 10:17:50 AM | 


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Michael F. BloomMichael F. Bloom, PE, is an environmental consultant with R.G. Miller Engineers Inc. in Houston, where he serves on the steering committee of the Houston Land and Water Sustainability Forum and chairs the Water Issues Committee of the Greater Houston Partnership.

 


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