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posted: 4/9/2014 8:46 PM

Local students take part in Sustainable Design Challenge

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DuPage County submission

Students from several DuPage County high schools displayed their green building projects to the public at the eighth annual Sustainable Design Challenge this week at the County's JTK Administration Building, Wheaton.

Sponsored by DuPage County Stormwater Management, the annual event coordinated by SCARCE encourages local schools to explore sustainability topics with students.

Participating high schools included Glenbard East, Wheaton Warrenville South, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley and Addison Trail, as well as Westfield Middle School in Bloomingdale.

"We look forward to the Sustainable Design Challenge each year at the county because it gives us a chance to see the real-world application of what students are learning about in school," county board Chairman Dan Cronin said.

"It also gives them an opportunity to see some of DuPage County's green infrastructure elements in person, including a green roof and rain garden."

More than 50 student groups presented models of their designs to the public, county board members and other interested county affiliates in attendance. Students also explained the design elements that made their building sustainable, including renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines, water conservation elements using native plant landscaping and rain barrels and green infrastructure for stormwater management.

"This event is as interesting for us as it is for the students. Not only are they learning about these sustainable practices, but they're also teaching us what they've learned," said Stormwater Management Planning Committee Chairman Jim Zay.

"I applaud the initiative of the students who create these innovative green building designs and the teachers who support and encourage them."

Traditionally a high school event, this year marked the first time a middle school has participated. Kay McKeen, founder and executive director of SCARCE, credits much of the popularity of this event to schools advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

"Our local high schools and middle schools are making a real effort to get kids interested in the sciences, and the challenge promotes this STEM education," McKeen said.

"Events like this are beneficial to students because they get a feel for careers they could pursue in these fields, such as engineering and architecture."

For information about the Sustainable Design Challenge and past projects, visit