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EPA recognizes University of Pennsylvania with RainWorks award for green infrastructure project

04/28/2021
Contact Information: 
US EPA Region 3 Press Office (R3press@epa.gov)

PHILADELPHIA (April 28, 2021) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has taken a first place award in EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national competition that engages college students in the design of green infrastructure solutions to address stormwater pollution.

Penn took first place in the Demonstration Project Category for its “Growing Together” project that focused on redesigning the nearby Andrew Hamilton Elementary School campus in West Philadelphia. The design incorporated a variety of green infrastructure practices, as well as raised garden beds and a food forest.

“The creative and scientific minds of students stand out in this competition that creates dynamic ideas on how to address complex stormwater issues,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Acting Regional Administrator Diana Esher. “I’d like to congratulate the students at the University of Pennsylvania who developed this project that incorporates innovative solutions that will help protect human health and the environment.”

Located two miles from the university, the Andrew Hamilton School lacks green space, access to fresh and healthy foods, and has an inadequate stormwater management system. Penn students designed a plan to provide a sustainable and food-producing green stormwater infrastructure that would benefit both the students and the surrounding community.

The design will lower the school’s stormwater fee, mitigate flooding in the community, alleviate the urban heat island effect, and provide access to fresh healthy food for students and the surrounding community.

The Andrew Hamilton Elementary school supported the team’s vision and will move forward with project construction this spring. Watch the team’s video about their design: https://youtu.be/PuJvzYdxnAg

Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution and remains a complex environmental challenge for communities across the country. EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge asks students and faculty members at colleges and universities to apply green infrastructure design principles, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase the use of green infrastructure on the nation’s college campuses. Since 2012 more than 700 teams have participated in the challenge.

In this year’s challenge, EPA invited student teams to compete in two design categories: the Master Plan category, which examines how green infrastructure can be broadly integrated across campus, and the Demonstration Project category, which focuses on how green infrastructure can address stormwater pollution at a specific site on campus or local elementary, junior high or high schools.

Background

Green infrastructure tools and techniques for stormwater management include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, habitat conservation, 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.

First place teams will receive a $7,000 student prize to be split among team members and a $3,000 faculty prize to support green infrastructure research and training. Second place teams will receive a $3,500 student prize and a $1,500 faculty prize. Since 2012 more than 750 teams have participated in the challenge. 

For more information and a list of all winners, visit: https://www.epa.gov/green-infrastructure/campus-rainworks-challenge-0

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