13th Annual Sustainable Design Challenge

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Green roof, green garden, green building.

It’s not easy designing your own sustainable building, but these high schoolers tried their hand at it for SCARCE’s Annual Sustainable Design Challenge.

The Challenge

“This is a project of SCARCE and the DuPage County Stormwater Management Committee,” said SCARCE’s Founder and Executive Director Kay McKeen. “This is an opportunity for young people to decide how they’re going to live. They’re going to be deciding how to manage water, how to slow down stormwater, how to save energy, how to reduce energy. Everybody is going to live in a home. What kind of a home are you going to build?”

The Designs

More than 30 student groups designed their own landscape or building models using environmentally friendly practices.

“We have solar panels, rain barrels, permeable pavement, electric car charging stations, and bike racks,” said Metea Valley Junior Evan Lemberger as he showed his group’s model.

It’s a challenge that’s proven to get more and more impressive every year.

“Just watching these kids come in from the days 13 years ago when it was Legos and shoeboxes. Now it’s geothermal heating and CAD design on computer-generated screens. Just to see what it’s gone to over the years is unbelievable,” said Jim Zay, the chairman of the Stormwater Management Committee.

A panel of judges scored each project for Best Overall LEED Design, Best Stormwater Management Design, and Best Energy Efficiency Design. And each comes with a cash prize.


But many are taking more than an award away with them from the competition.

“How many different ways there are to water plants are really interesting, because there are literally so many ways,” said Waubonsie Valley Senior Katie Montini.

“Yeah our project mainly focuses on water preservation so that was one thing,” added her group member Bella Udziela. “So just to realize how much water we use daily is a lot.”

Sustainable designs encouraging sustainable practices.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.