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UMD Students Win 2nd Place in National EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge

May 1, 2017

Graham Binder, 301-405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- For the third consecutive year, a University of Maryland team has taken high honors in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) fifth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge in which college teams collaborate to design an innovative green infrastructure project for their respective campus. More than 60 student teams from 30 states submitted innovative green infrastructure designs for this latest competition.

UMD’s second place finish in the demonstration project category of the 2016 Campus RainWorks Challenge follows first place finishes in 2015 and 2014. The demonstration projects for each year were created by UMD interdisciplinary teams led by students from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR). 

The current (2016) team’s Demonstration Project “(Un)Loading Nutrients” is designed to transform a strategic loading dock facility into a reimagined green infrastructure campus amenity. Under the guidance of and through a recommendation from UMD Facilities Management, the 2016 project team set out to retrofit a .97-acre lot that is 96 percent impervious surface (pavement) and lacks stormwater management best practices. Much of the polluted runoff from this lot is conveyed to the nearby creek of Guilford Run, causing significant environmental stress. 

The design proposal is intended as a future model for University-wide stormwater management projects that reverse negative stormwater impacts on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The project aligns with Facilities Management’s four strategic priorities: excellence, connectivity, sustainability, and stewardship. Within these are efforts to improve water conservation and stormwater management, address climate resiliency, enhance the pedestrian experience and support the academic and educational priorities of the university.

The team of AGNR, engineering and architecture students designed a proposal that features 6,660 square feet of bioretention (a process in which contaminants and sediments are extracted from stormwater runoff), 103 percent treatment of a two-year storm event, an 18 percent decrease in impervious surface, a safer pedestrian experience through the parking lot and loading dock, and improved canopy and vegetative cover.

To account for more intense storms and variable temperatures expected in the future due to climate change, the project’s bioretention basins and permeable pavers are designed with extra capacity to manage anticipated increases in future rain or snow events. In addition, the students selected native plants for the project that are able to withstand extremes of temperature and precipitation, while also providing food resources for birds, small mammals, and pollinators.

The team also worked very closely with UMD cost estimators and UMD Alumnus Rick Scaffidi of Environmental Quality Resources LLC, to create a reasonable and realistic budget.

“I’m immensely proud of our students, and continue to marvel at their commitment to improving the University experience for staff, faculty and students while also solving important stormwater challenges that affect our precious local waterways,” said Victoria Chanse, Ph.D. of UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and advisor to the project. “In our college, we are fully committed to preserving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and the development and installation of green infrastructure to mitigate stormwater impacts is a very important step.”

The 2016 student team was led by Mark Dennis, Dylan Reilly and Vince Yi (AGNR - Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture). The team also includes Emma Giese, Tuana Phillips (AGNR - Environmental Science and Technology); Michael Van Wie (Clark School of Engineering - Mechanical Engineering); and Christiane Machado (Architecture) all of whom will split $1,000 for the second place demonstration category. The 2015 and 2014 teams were made up of AGNR and civil engineering students.

The 2016 team advisor and course instructor was Victoria Chanse, Ph.D (Plant Science and Landscape Architecture). The team also was advised by Michael Carmichael, Stephen Reid (Facilities Management); Allen Davis, PhD (Civil & Environmental Engineering); Peter May, PhD (Environmental Science and Technology, Biohabitats); Mitch Pavao-Zuckerman, PhD (Environmental Science and Technology); Diane Cameron (Civil Engineer); William Olen (Executive Director, University of Maryland Design & Construction, Chair of Architectural and Landscape Review Board); Christopher Ho (Civil Engineer, University of Maryland Design & Construction); Rick Scaffidi (Vice President of Sales & Estimating, EQR LLC); Paul Romero (Lead Estimator, University of Maryland Design & Construction); Oswell Osei (Estimator, University of Maryland Design & Construction); Professor Jack Sullivan (Plant Science and Landscape Architecture); Professor Dennis Nola (Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Member of Architectural and Landscape Review Board) and John McCoy (Columbia Association).

Official EPA results of the 2016 competition are available through this link.