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Wheaton Academy and Other DuPage High School Students Participate in Green Building Project Challenge

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Students from several DuPage County high schools displayed their green building projects to the public at the 18th annual Sustainable Design Challenge on Tuesday, held at DuPage County’s Administration Building in Wheaton.

Sponsored by DuPage County Stormwater Management and coordinated by SCARCE, the annual event encourages students to construct building and landscape models using environmental- and water-friendly design practices. Participating high schools included York Community (Elmhurst), Glenbard East (Lombard), Wheaton Academy (West Chicago), Lake Park (Roselle), Hinsdale South (Darien) and Hinsdale Central.

“It’s amazing to see the passion and time these students put into this completely optional event, especially after returning from spring break only a few weeks ago and with SATs right around the corner,” said DuPage County Stormwater Management Committee Chairman Jim Zay. “The high level of participation we see year after year just proves how valuable this opportunity is for kids, and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow.”

Twenty-three student teams presented models of their designs in-person to a panel of judges, as well as County Board members and County and municipal staff. Students discussed the design elements that made their buildings sustainable, including renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines and water conservation elements such as native plant landscaping, rain barrels and other green infrastructure for stormwater management. The DuPage County Stormwater Management Committee will recognize the top designs at a future meeting.

Kay McKeen, founder and executive director of SCARCE, credits much of the popularity of this event to schools advancing science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) education.

“We have great teachers in DuPage County who encourage students to explore STEM fields both in and out of the classroom,” said McKeen. “The teachers never stop learning about new technology and sustainable practices, which are then passed down to the students. You can see the enthusiasm on all levels.”

During the event, students also learned about sustainable practices throughout DuPage County’s campus, including a green roof, rain garden, restored wetland, and a new pollinator garden.

For more information about the Sustainable Design Challenge and past projects, please visit https://www.scarce.org/sustainable-design-2/. To view photos of the event, visit the County’s Facebook page.

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