Sustainable Solutions

About the ASCE Sustainable Solutions Competition

The ASCE Sustainable Solutions Competition challenges students to develop a stronger understanding of sustainability and learn to incorporate sustainable solutions into everyday problems that engineers may encounter. Students are encouraged to be creative in their solutions and use all resources available.

Teams compete at the regional level, and top schools from each regional earn the right to participate in the national competition. ASCE UH is part of the ASCE Region 6 Student Conference. Our Sustainable Solutions Team earned 1st Place in the regional level and advanced to the nationals in 2023!

2024 Problem Statement

The fictional City of ASCE (the City) is well known for its early 20th Century waterfront and manufacturing hub on the Big Brown River to support the budding industrial economy at the time. A decline and abandonment of the riverfront has since occurred as trucking has replaced water-based shipping and the major industrial products (primarily grain and coal-intensive industrial processes) has moved away from the waterfront to more accessible areas.

The City has identified the following project goals:

  •  Revitalize land-use and economic activity along the waterfront area
  • Incorporate waterfront resiliency through Nature-based Solutions (NBS) and
    Engineering with Nature (EWN)
  • Mitigate existing flooding problems along the waterfront area
  • Enhance connections between citizens and water while also considering public
  • Recognize the historical significance of the area

Several parcels of the waterfront area have recently undergone revitalization and are starting to attract more visitors and developers. Three adjacent parcels are targeted for redevelopment and revitalization. The old rail line that supported the industrial areas of the waterfront is no longer in use. The railway owner has recently relinquished the local rail spur and right-of-way along the site to the City, connecting other portions of the City along the rail corridor to the waterfront area. 

There are some low-lying areas of the waterfront that regularly flood from the rising waters of the Big Brown River with larger local or upstream storm events, leading to
closures of the single roadway accessing the waterfront. A Flood Insurance Study indicated that elevations up to 1206 ft above sea level are likely to experience at least 6
inches of ponded water. The old rail line that crosses Widget Creek regularly floods during the current 10-year, 24-hour precipitation event. Widget Creek, a tributary to the
Big Brown River, was at one time a thriving confluence that had minnows, crayfish, and game fish but is now listed by the national regulatory agency as an “impaired water” due
to bacteria, sediment, and heavy metals caused by years of industrial and manufacturing activities.

The City requests that the renewal project include:

  • Demolition of four existing grain silos,
  • Renewal and revitalization plans for three parcels of the waterfront area that
    include commercial and residential properties,
  • Use of NBS and EWN approaches for redevelopment, including how they might
    help address flooding and other water quality issues in Widget Creek included
    in a Flood and Stormwater Management Plan,
  • Adequate parking servicing the commercial and residential properties,
  • Safe, multi-modal transportation access to the area that include potential
    pedestrian and cycling uses of the railway corridor to the waterfront,
  • An Evacuation and Severe Weather Conditions Management Plan that contains
    a strategy to manage public safety for extreme events and conditions projected
    with climate change and emergency evacuation preparedness,
  • A commemorative feature to recognize the historical and cultural significance of
    the location.

The City requires that all design proposal submissions use the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision framework to meet the City sustainability goals. As such, the City has the goal of seeking a minimum of Envision Superior category (details in Section 11) in order to achieve a conceptual Envision award of Silver.

The City of ASCE has had significant rainfall events that caused flooding issues and is looking for creative solutions for stormwater runoff. Current design standards are for the 10-year, 24-hour precipitation event of 4 inches. A recent climate change and resiliency study commissioned by the City of ASCE predicts more frequent and intense precipitation events in the future. The study also recommended that engineered systems should be designed for the 10-year, 6-hour precipitation event that has a rainfall amount of 3.2 inches with a peak intensity of 2.2 inches per hour, which the City has since adopted into its engineering standards. Proposed designs and calculations for flood and stormwater management should be compared to existing conditions to support changes and updates. Because the City of ASCE is a fictional city, teams are encouraged to incorporate appropriate building and plumbing codes (local or IBC and IPC 2018 or 2021) and relevant regulations to justify decisions, although the rainfall intensity, site-plan layout, and other specific design parameters provided in this document must be applied. If additional codes or design guidance is used, this should be explicitly cited within the technical design proposal.

The Rules

The competition is divided into four competition components which will be scored as follows:
  • Technical Design Proposal (up to 40 points)
  • Sustainability – ENVISION Scoring and Justifications (up to 20 points)
  • Poster (up to 15 points)
  • Interview (up to 25 points) 
Judges will score and rank each competition component, and then assign final score points based on each component ranking. The higher sustainability score prevails in the case of a tie of final score points.

If you are a student interested in becoming a sustainable solutions team member, we would LOVE for you to get involved! Contact one of our UH Chapter Officers for more information!

ASCE National Sustainable Solutions Competition Website Here