Students 13-18-years-old have a role to play in making the world more sustainable. That’s why the New York Academy of Sciences joined forces with United Technologies Corporation to develop an exciting free competition that could result in greener, more environmentally responsible urban buildings.
From October 17th to December 17th, 2017, 300 students from 43 countries worked to design solutions that promoted more environmentally responsible buildings. Ideas included how to efficiently use energy, water and other resources while protecting the health of the building’s occupants and promoting productivity. The solutions were then judged by senior engineers, researchers, and scientists for a chance to win up to $7500 in prize money and become a Junior Academy member. Learn more about the winning solutions here.
After all, we need to ensure that the buildings of the future are environmentally sound as a whopping 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, an increase from 55% in 2017, according to estimates. Although cities cover only two percent of the globe’s land area, they account for 70% of greenhouse-gas emissions, 30% of which are generated by buildings. So, construction of green buildings can help solve the problem by significantly reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Urbanization and expanding populations are driving the development of skyscrapers and other tall building. In the meantime, architects and planners are mapping out ways to accommodate the developing needs without further straining the environment.
Now more than ever, it’s vital to develop smart solutions for making buildings greener. That’s where students and educators come in.
United Technologies Corporation and The New York Academy of Sciences invited students ages 13-18 from around the world to participate in an open innovation challenge focused on sustainable buildings. Read the full challenge statement including the question and background here.
How it Works
After signing up to participate, students self-selected into teams and worked together on Launchpad, a virtual interactive platform which safely facilitates global collaboration and problem solving. Using Launchpad, students from around the world participated, in teams or individually, to design a green buildings solution by answering the question proposed.
Challenge Began: October 17, 2017
Solutions Due: December 17, 2017
Winners Announced: March 2018
To participate in the challenge, students were required to meet the following eligibility requirements:
- All individuals must be between the ages of 13-18 as of the date of registration in order to participate.
- All participants must sign up on Launchpad and agree to the Terms of Service. Those under the age of majority must submit a parent/guardian consent form before the challenge begins.
- Challenge materials and solutions must be submitted in English in order to be considered. Participants can work in teams or individually. Teams can be as large as 6.
Winners were awarded entry into the elite Junior Academy community.
- 1st prize team: $7500
- 7 runner up teams: $2500
- Finalists will be admitted to The Junior Academy of the New York Academy of Sciences
Learn more about our winners and finalists here.
And the Grand Prize Goes To...
The goal of the project was to design a “smart building” with walls that are dynamic, living surfaces, that counter greenhouse gasses, internal systems that can convert waste into resources with new, useful applications, and more efficient HVAC systems that make use of solar energy and AI. The team’s innovative solution consists of four parts:
- A water recycling system featuring a tank with a capacitive floating sensor helps to maximize efficient use of water. Water level is monitored using a 4-20mA current loop. A three-way actuated butterfly valve guides “graywater” from a building’s upper floors to the tanks. If the tank is full, the water will be guided to the nearest reservoir. If there is a water shortage in the toilet system and a lack of “graywater”, a spare tank opens the lower solenoid valve to transfer water for a single flush. If there are no spare tanks, the upper solenoid valve provides fresh water. The kitchen and unused bathroom “graywater” is treated and filtered to be used on-site or for watering surrounding green areas.
- Solar panels installed on a building’s roof and south-facing wall. The wall panels will be positioned at a fixed 75-degree angle. The roof panels include seasonal tilts specific to the region’s latitude to optimize the collection of sunlight.
- “Green walls” – a collection of vines, leaf twiners and climbers on a grid-like support – help to purify the air and provide additional building insulation. Rainwater collected on the roof provides a drip irrigation system to keep the vegetation fresh.
- The home assistant. This device uses a series of indoor sensors to detect occupancy, light intensity, temperature, humidity and air quality to maximize the use of energy. It will also monitor the usage of water, electricity and the amount of “graywater” recycled and received.
Team members: Bani Singh, 18, Minerva Schools at KGI, Oslo, Norway; Irhum Shafkat, 15, Rajuk Uttara Model College, Uttara, Bangladesh; Sachin Dangi, 18, Xavier International, Kathmandu, Nepal; Arunima Sen, 16, Kendriya Vidyalaya Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India; Ioana- Elena Tarabasanu-Mihaila, 17, Saint Sava National College, Bucharest, Romania; Darius Filip, 17, National College, Vasile Lucaciu, Baia Mare, Romania.
For their winning solution, the team will share a $7,500 grand prize and each team member will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City to attend the annual Global STEM Alliance Summit in July.
In addition to the winning team, seven finalist teams will each receive a prize of $2,500, to be shared equally between team members.
A carefully planned scalable modular system that provides energy and water to buildings, while improving the health and productivity of occupants.
Team members: Lara Louise Bevan-Shiraz, 13, Johns Hopkins Centre for Talented Youth, Denpasarpasar, Indonesia; Júlia Vághy, 17, Klebelsberg Kuno Altalanos Iskola es Gimnazium, Pest megye, Hungary; Sabahat Ali 17, Chenab College Jhang, Punjab, Pakistan; Vaishnavi Dwivedi 17, Pace Junior Science College,West Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; Ben Edmunds, Kenilworth Warwickshire, U.K.; and Joe Pater, 15, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, U.K.
Address the key issues surrounding urban living through the integration of environmentally-friendly heating and cooling systems,sustainable construction materials, habitat restoration, innovative street design and energy efficient building techniques.
Team members: Caitlin Butt, 17, Narrabundah College, Canberra, ACT, Australia and Rose Zhang, 17, Narrabundah College, ACT, Australia
The exterior of the building is composed of hempcrete with a recycled timber support structure. The building is insulated with cellulose insulation and is painted on the interior with VOC-free milk paint. There is a green roof for growing fresh fruits and vegetables. Florist’s chrysanthemums can be found on the roof as well as in the apartments. The roof fencing, in addition to the skylights and windows in the apartments, are composed of clear solar panels rather than glass.
Team members: Natasha Stamler 17, The Bronx High School of Science, New York, NY
A building that generates its own electricity and derives energy from natural renewable resources while continuously reusing water safely - all while promoting a psychologically healthy space for those in the building.
Team members: Priya Sagar, 16, Midwood High School at Brooklyn College New York, NY; Anya AitSahlia, 15, Oak Hall School, Gainesville, FL; Helia Zeinoddini, 16, Carson Graham Secondary, North Vancouver, Canada; Priya Gautam, 15, Spruce Grove Composite High School, Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada; and Tina Sindwani 15, Mountain Ridge High School, Glendale, Arizona
A DIY sustainable off-the-grid low-cost home made from recycled landfill bound trash and locally made materials that utilize evaporative, biotechnology, thermal heat transfer and geothermal cooling to create a comfortable living space in semi-arid and arid regions for our poorest residents.
Team members: Kimika Arai 17, KAIS International School, Tokyo, Japan; Yahia Adla, 17 St. Xavier's School, Cario, Egypt; Shani Kassie Lyskov, 16, Leo Baeck Education Center High School, Haifa, Israel; Nadja Stojanovic, 15, Gimnazijia “Slobodan Skerovic”, Podgorica, Montenegro; Adeeb Abbas, 18, St. Xavier's School, Rajasthan, India; and Talar Terzain, 16, Oak Hall High School, Gainesville, FL.
A building that uses LED based hydroponics in the underground compartments and algal bioreactors which consume carbon dioxide in the presence of sunlight and release oxygen.
Team members: Keerat Kaur, 16, Sri Guru Gobind Singh school, Chandigarh, India; Majji Rohan, 18, Andhra University College of Pharmaceuticals Sciences, Andhra Pradesh, India; Harsha Somisetty, 16, Edison High School; Tavus Atajanova 18, Leon M. Goldstein High School, New York, NY; and Emmalee Frketich, 15, Westmount Secondary School, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
A mobile application to promote the construction and maintenance of “green buildings.” The application, BUILDing Connections, has the ability to act as a communication bridge between neighbors in any buildings or apartment complex.
Team members: Rachel Cox, 16, Tytherington School, U.K.; Boldsaikhan Boldbayar, 18, graduated from New Era International School, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Robyn An, 15, Seoul International School, South Korea; Luis Enrique Guerra Camacho 18, Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, UNAM, Tlalpan, Mexico; Harshita Singh Chauhan 16, Raffles Girls’ School, Singapore; and Sydney Sauer 17, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Cincinnati, OH.