Cheng, team win EPA award for green infrastructure project

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized Arizona State University as a winner of its eighth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national competition that engages college students in the design of on-campus green infrastructure solutions to help address stormwater pollution.

The ASU team, led by sustainability scientist Chingwen Cheng, assistant professor of landscape architecture in The Design School, was recognized for their project, titled “Ready! Set! Activate!” The team worked with Paideia Academy, a K-8 public charter school located in south Phoenix, to reduce local flooding during Arizona’s monsoon season and create a resilient, multifunctional space that effectively manages stormwater runoff and yields educational and ecological benefits.

The five-acre school property is located on an alluvial floodplain of South Mountain. Green infrastructure interventions, including the creation of bioswales and bioretention for stormwater, along with the use of native vegetation, are critical to mitigate seasonal flooding and improve environmental site conditions.

“This project allowed for collaboration between a charter school serving minority and economically underserved children and ASU researchers and students to address environmental justice and equity in health and education,” Cheng said. “Our students gained firsthand experience working with the community and seeing that their design concepts would be realized in the near future. This is an invaluable service-learning experience for students and directly benefits underserved communities.”

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