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Univ. of New Mexico Awarded 2nd Place in EPA’s 6th-Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge

Student team among national leaders in innovative design of green infrastructure on campus

Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (April 27, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the University of New Mexico as a runner-up in the sixth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national collegiate competition that engages the next generation of environmental professionals to design innovative solutions for stormwater pollution using green infrastructure.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s innovators,” said David Ross, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “Through EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge, we are harnessing the creativity and enthusiasm of college students to solve local stormwater problems and better protect the environment.”

The University of New Mexico was awarded second place in the demonstration project category. With their project “Johnson Field (Re)Creation” this team proposes to transform an athletic field to better manage stormwater runoff, reduce local flooding, and improve water efficiency on site. By recessing the playing field two inches and encircling the field with a network of rain gardens and new tree plantings, the design would result in the annual capture of over 1 million gallons of stormwater. Watch the team’s video about their project here:

Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution in America, conveying pollutants to waterbodies, contributing to downstream flooding, and threatening public health and the environment. The Campus RainWorks Challenge asks students and faculty members at colleges and universities across the country to apply green infrastructure design principles, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase the use of green infrastructure on the nation’s college campuses.

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. With the help of a faculty advisor, teams of students focused their expertise, creativity, and energy on the challenges of stormwater management and showcased the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure.

In addition to University of New Mexico, the challenge winners are:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1st Place Demonstration Project Category) – The team’s project “Campus Hydro Redesigned” integrates a variety of green infrastructure practices into a campus parking lot, reducing impervious area, and completely mitigating the stormwater runoff from remaining impervious surfaces. Using descriptive signage and native vegetation, the team’s design also seeks to add ecological, social, and aesthetic value to the site, converting parking space into a multi-functional campus amenity. Watch the team’s video about their project:

University of California, Berkeley (1st Place Master Plan Category) – Titled “(Re)Generations” this project exemplifies long-term commitment and vision in stormwater management. Strawberry Creek is a local water body and defining feature of the Berkeley campus. Using this water body as a connective thread, the team’s design strategically phases green infrastructure across the campus, capturing 100 percent of the university’s stormwater runoff by 2100, and restoring water quality to the Strawberry Creek watershed. Watch the team’s video about their project:

University of Maryland, College Park (2nd Place Master Plan Category) – The “Champion Gateway” project integrates multiple green infrastructure practices into a campus entryway and pedestrian corridor adjacent to the proposed Purple Line, a light rail system that will connect Metro service lines and bring increased foot traffic to the University. The team’s design decreases impervious surface by over 70 percent and increases tree canopy by planting over 350 new trees. The redesigned site provides environmental and aesthetic value to the College Park campus, and highlights the wisdom of aligning transportation and water infrastructure planning. Watch the team’s video about their project:

First place teams will receive a $2,000 student prize to be split among team members and a $3,000 faculty prize to support green infrastructure research and education. Second place teams will receive a $1,000 student prize and a $2,000 faculty prize.

The University of Arizona received an honorable mention in both the Demonstration Project and Master Plan categories.

EPA plans to announce the seventh annual Campus RainWorks Challenge in the summer of 2018. Since 2012 nearly 600 teams have participated in the Challenge.

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. Using 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.

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