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UMD Team Wins EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge

April 22, 2015

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a University of Maryland team as a winner of its third annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design competition created to engage college and university students in reinventing water infrastructure. Student teams across the country proposed innovative green infrastructure designs to reduce stormwater pollution and develop sustainable communities.

EPA invited student teams to compete in two design categories — the Master Plan category, which examined how green infrastructure could be integrated into a broad area of a school’s campus, and the Demonstration Project category, which examined how green infrastructure could be integrated into a particular site on the team’s campus. 

Winning UMD TeamEPA awarded first prize in the Campus RainWorks Challenge’s demonstration project category to an interdisciplinary team from UMD. The team’s design focused on a prominent seven-acre site next to the university’s Memorial Chapel on the College Park campus. Officials from the university and the EPA were on-hand to formally present the award to the winning team at a ceremony held on the steps of the chapel to commemorate Earth Day. 

“The context of the chapel is what informed our design because it is spiritual and a place of healing,” said Harris Trobman, a landscape architecture student at UMD and member of the team that created the winning design. “We were interested in how the peace gardens around the chapel could be extended into a transformative type of space for the community. We took this concept a step further by looking at how we could heal both people and the environment.”

The winning UMD team consisted of four landscape architecture students, including Trobman, Penny Jacobs, Nicholas Yoder, and Johnathan Gemmell, as well as civil engineering students Jaison Renkenberger and Yan Wang. The students were advised by Dr. Victoria Chanse, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA).  

To capture and treat stormwater from adjacent parking lots and rooftops, the team proposed to re-design the site by disconnecting existing storm pipes and directing flow into a green infrastructure treatment train designed to treat 100 percent of a one-year storm event.

Image from UMD ProposalThe team’s design replaced traditional lawn with a meadow landscape that included rain gardens, tiered plantings, bioretention, bioswales and rain gardens. This would provide habitat for pollinators and beneficial insect species, and serve as an outdoor classroom and contemplative landscape for visitors and the university community.

UMD’s winning submission was unique in adding high value to the campus landscape and addressing stormwater management issues in a high-priority watershed. The students will split $2,000 in prize money. Faculty from the PSLA Department will also receive money toward furthering green infrastructure research.

“People should know that flooding, eroding backyard stream banks, limited fishing areas, sewer overflows, expensive and low-quality crab or fish are all results of a poor and deteriorating stormwater control infrastructure,” said Jaison Renkenberger, a civil engineering student from the winning UMD team. “Fishing from clean streams, kayaking through restored wetlands and farming Blue Crab are all supported by sustainability.”

EPA also recognized a second team from UMD with an honorable mention award in the master plan category.

EPA launched the Campus RainWorks Challenge in 2012 to inspire the next generation of landscape architects, planners and engineers to develop innovative green infrastructure systems that mitigate urban stormwater impacts while supporting vibrant and sustainable communities. For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/campusrainworks