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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Press Release

Contact Information: Mary Mitros (630) 407-6706

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

DuPage County, SCARCE Hold 12th Annual Sustainable Design Challenge

Students from several DuPage County high schools displayed their green building projects to the public at the 12th annual Sustainable Design Challenge on Tuesday, held at DuPage County’s Administration Building in Wheaton.

Sponsored by DuPage County Stormwater Management, SCARCE coordinates the annual event, which encourages students to construct building and landscape models using environmental and water-friendly design practices. Participating high schools included Wheaton Warrenville South, York Community (Elmhurst), Glenbard East (Lombard) and Hinsdale Central.

“The Sustainable Design Challenge is a great tradition here at the County,” said County Board Chairman Dan Cronin. “Each year, more than a hundred students showcase the impressive and innovative building designs they created. I have no doubt in my mind that one day some of these designs will be fully developed and built.”

Nearly 30 student groups presented models of their designs to a panel of judges, as well as the public, County Board members, local professionals and County and municipal staff. Students explained the design elements that made their building 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 Board will recognize the top designs at their May 8 meeting.

“Nearly every design feature in these projects serves a dual purpose. For example, a rain garden that attracts butterflies and improves a property’s aesthetics also detains stormwater during rain events, cutting down on polluted runoff,” said DuPage County Stormwater Management Committee Chairman Jim Zay. “The students don’t overlook any aspect that could advance the sustainability of their designs. Even in the 12th year, it never ceases to amaze me.”

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.

“All of these designs are examples of students using STEM principles learned in the classroom and placing them in real-life scenarios,” said McKeen. “I have to give so much credit to the teachers and administrators who are fostering this education in our local high schools.”

During the event, students also toured sustainable practices throughout DuPage County’s campus, including a green roof, rain garden and restored wetland, as well as several sustainable building features at the DuPage Health Department’s Community Center.

For more information about the Sustainable Design Challenge and past projects, please visit