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University of Maryland Team Wins EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge for Second Consecutive Year

April 22, 2016

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A University of Maryland team is this year’s winner of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fourth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national design competition created to engage college and university students in reinventing our water infrastructure and developing green infrastructure systems to reduce storm water pollution, build resilience to climate change and develop sustainable communities. Seventy-seven schools form twenty-nine states participated in the competition, and a team from UMD emerged victorious for the second consecutive year.

EPA invited student teams to compete in two design categories as part of the Campus RainWorks Challenge — 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.

EPA awarded first prize in the demonstration project category to an interdisciplinary team from UMD. The team’s design centered on reimagining a major, five-acre parking lot to retrofit it for improved storm water management. The design features reduce 40 percent of impervious surface; add over 17,000 square feet of new vegetation space, 56 new trees for shaded parking spaces, and 8,640 square feet of pedestrian space; and, reduce 12.3 million tons of CO2 annually. The team’s design has good potential as a model for other campuses across the U.S. 

"It was an honor working among such talented students and faculty advisors across disciplines,” said landscape architecture student George Sorvalis. “We hope our design can showcase University of Maryland's leadership in solving tough storm water challenges for our precious local creeks, the Chesapeake Bay and for adapting to and mitigating the effects of global climate change."

The winning UMD team consisted of three landscape architecture students, including Sorvalis, Kathleen Hayes, and Matt Zerfas; Environmental Science and Technology students Emma Giese and Sharon Hartzell; and Civil Engineering student Jason Renkenberger. The students were advised by Dr. Victoria Chanse, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA). Additional student, faculty, and staff advisors and contributors included Dr. Mitch Paavo-Zuckerman, Dennis Nola, Stephen Reid, Michael Carmichael, Dean David Conrath, Darwin Fuerstein, Diane Cameron, Dr. Peter May, Karen Petroff, Elisabeth Walker, Rick Scaffidi, and Harris Trobman.    

At the recommendation of UMD’s Facilities Management, the team designed a storm water retrofit for parking lot 11B, a 5-acre lot of 100 percent impervious surface delivering large quantities of untreated runoff into the adjacent Campus Creek, an adjacent wetland and the Paint Branch stream. Facilities Management requested that the team produce a storm water retrofit for parking lot 11B that could serve as a template for other surface parking lots on campus.

The retrofit features a treatment train consisting of tree canopy, permeable interlocking concrete pavers, and bioretention cells. This is an approach that achieves reductions in storm water quantity and improvements to storm water quality. Other project features include plants that have phytoremediation capabilities for heavy metal and petroleum, tolerate both extreme dry and wet conditions and salt conditions. The design improves pedestrian circulation with the addition of sidewalks, and climate resilience is a achieved by engineering the design to capture, detain and treat a future 1-year storm under a climate change scenario that predicts a 53 percent increase in precipitation.

The students will split $2,000 in prize money. Faculty from the PSLA Department will also receive money toward furthering green infrastructure research.

“Our Campus RainWorks Challenge winners inspire the next generation of green infrastructure designers and planners,” said Joel Beauvais, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water. “All the submissions included innovative approaches to stormwater management. I want to congratulate the University of Maryland for their winning submission.”

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

For more information about the 2015 Campus Rainworks Challenge: https://www.epa.gov/green-infrastructure/2015-campus-rainworks-challenge