New Competition Highlights Campus GI Design
By Neil Weinstein
Posted April 22, 2013
This year 215 universities from across the country competed
in the first USEPA Campus Rainworks Challenge.
I was privileged to be asked to be one of the judges choose finalists to
send to Nancy Stoner, EPA Office of
Water Acting Administrator and her staff, for the final selection and award
winners. Just a few years ago it may
have been hard for many people in stormwater management to imagine a nationwide
Green Infrastructure (GI) design competition.
The awareness and implementation by all communities of all sizes around
the country has grown exponentially in the design professions. Now the interest and enthusiasm has filtered
down to colleges and universities of all sizes with the advent of this new and
The finalists were equally divided into large schools and small schools
represented by multi-disciplinary teams of planners, landscape architects,
engineers, artists, and representatives from other allied programs. Each school was given the task of designing a
signature cutting-edge project or master plan that could help transform the campus
into “THE” GI university or college. Previous
rounds of judging criteria included a long list of planning, technical,
feasibility, and other sustainability metrics used in GI, and this final round
looked at how each team really put things together so that the creativity and
vision could be realized by the school.
Our panel of 10 judges, including representatives from the
American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Landscape
Architects, the Water Environment Federation, EPA, private practitioners, and academia,
had to make some difficult decisions.
The amount of creativity, interdisciplinary cooperation, and quality of
the work from each of the sixteen finalists was amazing, and the size of school
and resources seemed to not make a difference on the amount of creativity and
knowledge that was included in each project. Many of the ideas were incredibly innovative,
and they really applied state-of-the-art science to planning and design. I’d also say their sensitivity to surrounding
areas and the community were outstanding. Several designs met all the judging
criteria and took the extra leap into developing new concepts and addressing
issues beyond GI.
The videos and design outreach plans required for submittal
were definitely among the highlights.
Many of them really showed a lot of creativity and fun while getting across
some complex and detailed planning and design benefits. It was also good to see projects from across
the country in many different climate and urbanized settings-- it was apparent
is that Green Infrastructure can be accomplished in campuses almost
anywhere. Many of the designs also addressed the
transition and relationship to conventional GI and looked at retrofits as well
as expansions of the campuses.
It was obvious from the competition that our next generation
of GI professionals is going to be ready, and we’re in good hands! Check out
the winning designs announced today at http://www.epa.gov/campusrainworks.