The Helios Concert Hall was the Overall LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Design winner in the 2020 Sustainable Design Challenge submitted by York’s Team Helios members, seniors Adrian Zhuang, Rose Menichini, Serena Jobi and Stephanie Yang. The design utilizes previously developed land in Elmhurst and features a concentrated solar power system. (Photo courtesy of SCARCE)
The Helios Concert Hall was the Overall LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Design winner in the 2020 Sustainable Design Challenge submitted by York’s Team Helios members, seniors Adrian Zhuang, Rose Menichini, Serena Jobi and Stephanie Yang. The design utilizes previously developed land in Elmhurst and features a concentrated solar power system.

Photo courtesy of SCARCE

Building for the future: York’s Sustainable Design teams go virtual during the pandemic

December 10, 2020

York’s environmentally conscious students went green this past April as teams from all over DuPage county came together to compete in the SCARCE(School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education) annual Sustainable Design Challenge to create the environmentally sound and sustainable structures of the future. 

Though this year’s challenge moved online due to COVID-19, York still sent four teams to the virtual competition and won awards in two categories. Team Helios won Best Overall LEED Design and the Mean Green Designing Team of juniors Liam Felice and Paul Nicoli and senior Avi Clancy took home the prize for Best Stormwater Design. Sponsor and science teacher Bob Blaus hopes to send more teams to compete in the 2021 Sustainable Design Challenge and see repeat success this coming April.  

“York has participated in this project for over five years,” said Blaus. “The last three years we’ve placed and won cash prizes. We can have up to ten teams compete and I’d like to max it out this year to get a lot of people involved and continue our winning legacy.”

The Sustainable Design Challenge offers high school students the opportunity to dive in and explore careers in environmental science and construction before college. The tremendous focus on eco-friendly engineering and team based cooperation gives students the chance to see how environmental initiatives can be implemented throughout their own communities and the world. 

“Obviously climate change is a huge deal and we see consequences to the rising temperature in the increase of forest fires and bleaching of coral reefs,” Helios team member and senior Stephanie Yang said. ”If we want to live a comfortable life, we need our structures to be sustainable so they are usable in the future. It’s important to preserve the planet we live on for future generations and for ourselves when we are older.”

Preparation for the Sustainable Design Challenge begins with teams of four forming in the winter and working together to create a design over the following months until the competition in April. In the past, the competition has relied heavily on in-person collaboration, and this year’s competition marked a significant shift for teams with the online format. 

“Instead of presenting inside a building, we made a video of our presentation and submitted pictures and documents detailing our structure,” Helios team member and senior Adrian Zhuang said. “Since teams had to build models of their designs, COVID basically made it so that only one person could build the model. Despite this, it was still fun putting the video together and the process of creating our design wasn’t impeded.”

With the Sustainable Design Challenge staying online into 2021, the chance remains for students to compete for awards, and of course, the coveted cash prizes, while also learning about the environment and building the sustainable structures of the future. This year’s Sustainable Design Challenge will be open to all interested students. Prospective teams should contact Bob Blaus for details.  

“It’s inspirational and motivating to see other people who care about the environment,” Yang said. “It’s really fun to find a group, share ideas and be creative, so if you’re interested you should definitely give it a shot.” 

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