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University of Florida in Gainesville, FL wins First Prize for Large Institutions RainWorks Challenge

Release Date: 04/23/2013
Contact Information: William McBride, 404-562-8378 (direct), 404-562-8400 (main), mcbride.william@epa.gov

Atlanta -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that the University of Florida at Gainesville, Florida won first prize among large institutions in the Agency’s first Campus RainWorks Challenge. EPA created the challenge to inspire the next generation of landscape architects, planners and engineers to develop innovative green infrastructure.

The design submitted by the winning team from the University of Florida targets Reitz Lawn, an 11-acre open area and pedestrian corridor on campus. The plan aims to remove pollutants from stormwater before they reach nearby Lake Alice, which drains directly into the Floridian Aquifer. The design includes naturalistic rain gardens and bioswales, two architectural collection pools, a green wall, a green roof, and a campus garden.

The team’s design was unique among the entries received in seeking student input. The team displayed an informational kiosk at the University’s Student Union, where team members surveyed students to identify major pedestrian routes through the Reitz Lawn, learn more about current uses, and solicit opinions on potential design elements and reduce water used for campus landscaping by 3 million gallons annually.

The project will serve as an ongoing stormwater management design and research site for the University of Florida’s campus and nearby Lake Alice. The University of Florida’s team was composed of a faculty advisor and 12 graduate students from various disciplines including landscape architecture, environmental engineering, and agricultural and biological engineering.

More than 30 expert judges from EPA, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Water Environment Federation and the American Society of Civil Engineers reviewed submissions from 218 teams. The winners were selected based on six criteria: analysis and planning, preservation or restoration of natural features, integrated water management, soil and vegetation management, value to campus, and likelihood of implementation.

Stormwater is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation. Large volumes of polluted stormwater degrade our nation’s rivers, lakes and aquatic habitats and contribute to downstream flooding.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge engages students and faculty at colleges and universities to apply green infrastructure principles and design, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase the use of green infrastructure on campuses across the nation. Green infrastructure filters and captures pollutants by passing stormwater through soils and retaining it on site. Green roofs, permeable surfaces and rain gardens are some of the most common types of green infrastructure.

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