UMD Team Wins EPA’s Annual RainWorks Competition

Members of the winning team with faculty advisors

September 9, 2022

University of Maryland Masters of Landscape Architecture students and Undergraduate  Environmental Science and Technology students teamed up to win a first place prize and an honorable mention in this year’s Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national competition run by the U.S. EPA that challenges students to design on-campus green infrastructure solutions to address stormwater pollution. These students have added their names to the legacy of RainWorks achievements, with UMD teams having now won three 1st places, two 2nd places, and two Honorable Mentions since 2012.

The students participated in two different categories of the competition including the Master Plan category, and the Demonstration Project category. The Master Plan group won first place for their entry, “Future Flows,” which proposed a green infrastructure redesign that would improve the movement of people and the flow of rainwater across 66-acres in the north section of campus. The main design strategy of this Master Plan was to replace hard surfaces with green space. This would: 

  • Decrease impervious surfaces by 33%

  • Reduce rainwater runoff by an average of 132%

  •  Lower the air temperature by almost 8 (degrees) 

The plan also proposed the addition of 2,300 feet of bike paths and over 2,500 linear feet of pedestrian trails which would reduce interaction between cars, pedestrians and bikers. These new trails include a boardwalk nature path along campus creek, known to be quite inaccessible as it is currently obstructed by trees and overgrown with invasive species.

In response to this plan, the EPA wrote that “By examining current and predicted fluctuations in the movement of people and water across campus, the team’s design would revitalize the campus through restoration of site hydrology and create a more resilient and adaptable campus for future generations of students.”

Representing the second category, the Demonstration Project group was awarded an honorable mention from the EPA recognizing the project: The AgroEcology Gateway Experience,” which would transform the corner of University Blvd and Paint Branch Drive into a welcoming entrance to campus incorporating a stormwater treatment and reuse system, reforestation, rain gardens, permeable pavement and the replacement of an existing parking lot with a green garage that would also support solar panels. This design would: 

  • Harvest nearly 70,000 cubic feet of stormwater  

  • Reduce more than 1.6 million pounds of carbon use over the next three decades.

This competition has certainly shown the benefits of different disciplines working in tandem. Team members presenting the “Future Flows” entry included Masters of Landscape Architecture students Bryn Martin, Kelsey Moody, Hanna Savio, and Bridget Stokes, and undergraduate students majoring in Environmental Science and Technology Anushka Tandon and Isabella Battish.

Team members presenting the “The AgroEcology Gateway Experience” included Battish and Tandon, fellow ENST major Lucy Hayes, as well as Master of Landscape Architecture students Xiojin Ren, Audrey Fann, and Jonathan Mallory.

The teams were led by faculty advisors Byoung-Suk Kweon, associate professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Michael Carmichael, stormwater Maintenance Coordinator and facilities management, and Peter May, Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology.

Quoting Peter May: 

“Wow, UMD/AGNR is an EPA nationally recognized powerhouse in stormwater thinking and design. I can't think of a better way to celebrate Water Week and the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act.”