2024 Sustainable Design Challenge Wrapped

April 16, 2024

The Lundgren Retail Collaborative hosted the 2024 Sustainable Design Challenge facilitated by RCSC Professors Lance Erickson and Kathleen Kennedy on April 12-13th. The challenge centered around sustainability, the overarching theme for the Collaborative this year.

On Friday at 2:00 p.m., teams were given the challenge prompt: Use design thinking to create waste-reducing, environmentally conscious new product and/or service design solutions that could be implemented at the University of Arizona or the broader Southern Arizona community. The new product and/or service must specifically consider the demanding requirements of our hot, arid climate. Teams had the remainder of Friday to use design-thinking principles to develop a proposal and presentation. On Saturday, each team presented to a panel of judges from the Tucson community. 

Jenna Walker, a sophomore at the University of Arizona, stated, “This past weekend, I participated in my first case competition, working with a team of creative and dedicated individuals. For our concept, we presented the idea of a biodegradable sunlight-reflecting adhesive window film for UA students and faculty. We presented its advantages to judges, including reduced reliance on air conditioning, fewer carbon emissions, and cheaper energy bills. I’m so proud of what our team put together in such a short amount of time! I couldn’t be more thankful to have participated in the competition’s pilot launch!”


Additionally, Grace Margisso, a junior in the RCSC program, reflected on her experience, highlighting the collaborative, innovative, and competitive atmosphere that defined the event. Grace shared, "The 2024 LRC Sustainable Design Challenge provided a collaborative, innovative, and competitive platform to think broadly about sustainable design principles. Despite my limited experience in the topic, participating in this challenge compelled me to embrace the learning curve, treating it as an opportunity to apply all I know about biomimicry, environmental science, and marketing with an entrepreneurial mindset."

Her words demonstrate the challenge's inclusive nature, welcoming participants from diverse backgrounds to engage with sustainability in a meaningful way. This challenge was open to all university majors, from business to neuroscience.


Congratulations to all the teams that participated! All of the proposals tackled a wide range of issues that impact the environment, such as reducing food waste, limiting air conditioning use through more efficient windows, encouraging recycling through gamification, and a number of proposals for better water use. The judges all mentioned how impressed they were with the quality of the proposals, and even more so given the limited time to develop them. Your dedication to addressing sustainability challenges is commendable and inspiring, as are your innovative ideas and solutions. And now to announce the winners…

1st place team winners- Isra Athar, Karina Carrillo, and Arpita Gulati. Their project, "Biofilm Innovation for Microplastic Cleanup," described how we might remove microplastics from the greywater produced by washing machines on campus.

Sarah McKeighan, Peyton Lord, and Ryan Szeker took second place with a project about rainwater harvesting initiatives. Jinhao Zuo, Zhiqiu Liang, Jiawei Chen, and Yanming Kuang took third place with a project about sustainable gardening. Third place was Jinhao Zuo, Zhiqiu Liang, Jiawei Chen, and Yanming Kuang with a project about how sustainable gardening could shorten the supply chain for local restaurants.


As the event concluded, participants left with a renewed sense of purpose and a commitment to driving positive change in their communities. The top three groups were awarded cash prizes, with the winning group being awarded $3000!  Thank you to everyone for signing up for the 2024 Sustainable Design Challenge, and we hope to see you next year!