Naperville North High School students pitched their ideas for sustainability last week when they took part in DuPage County’s eighth annual SCARCE Sustainable Design Challenge.
Participants also included students from Wheaton-Warrenville South, Glenbard East, Addison Trail and Bloomingdale’s Westfield Middle School, the first middle school to participate.
“It’s interesting to see how you can implement the environmental aspects of building,” Naperville North junior David Juma said, standing in front of his team’s model of a green sports complex.
Juma and his partners, Nick Fischer and Luke Brennan, also juniors, took on the project for their chemistry class and wound up getting picked for the presentation.
The team presented their design outside the County Board room, both before and during the board meeting, mingling with citizens, participating students, board members and county officials.
The event was sponsored by DuPage County Stormwater Management and the Glen Ellyn non-profit, SCARCE (School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education).
About 110 students from 50 student groups participated in the all-day event that included lunch, a discussion on stormwater issues and a tour of green county buildings.
The green sports complex envisioned by Juma and his classmates called for the use of recycled tires for virtually every surface of the facility, including floors, the playground, and turf for playing fields.
The parking lots would make use of permeable pavers to more efficiently handle stormwater runoff.
“The project gave me another perspective on buildings,” Juma said. “Before I looked at it as just a building … and I learned that this could create new job possibilities that don’t yet exist.”
Brennan said he “really liked learning about this” and all three involved in the project said that although they were undecided about careers, jobs in green industry presented another option.
The “Brazilian Apartments” were the brainchild of Naperville North juniors Nathan Black and Nathan Wise.
The high-rise apartment building was designed with the idea of using as much renewable energy as possible, especially in the area of wind and solar energy.
The project calls for bamboo flooring, dual flush toilets, permeable pavers, and a green roof.
The pair named the apartments after the South American country as a nod to the reality that greater environmental efficiencies will be realized in a warmer climate.
But they stressed that the model would be viable in any climate.
“It’s energy efficient anywhere you put it,” Black said.
SCARCE founder Kay McKeen spoke after the board meeting about the educational benefits of the project.
“The kids are learning a lot in one small project,” she said. “They’re learning about the environment issues being addressed right outside their doors.”
McKeen noted that the projects were aligned with modern educational needs, including a renewed emphasis on STEM education (science, technology, math, engineering).
“This is directly related to STEM,” she said.
McKeen also stressed that the projects also complimented the new Common Core Standards in Illinois public education, particularly the emphasis on student presentation.
“We had one student who made his presentation 22 times in a three-hour period,” she said.
Beyond education, the students picked up knowledge that might benefit them in the marketplace.
“They’re studying long-term things that will be an advantage to their careers,” McKeen said.
She noted one of the students who’s model was a “monster green garage” to service motor vehicles. The student discovered am auto-lift that was powered exclusively by air and water, completely independent of petroleum products.
“He wants to own a garage one day,” McKeen said. “And he’s already found something.”
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said the students involved in the event were very impressive.
“I’m impressed with the depth of these projects,” he said.