Maintaining the pace of growth and development in the greater Houston area, where the population is expected to double in the next thirty years, requires that those with a vested in the design, development and construction community adopt new ideas and employ new methods that will insure such growth can be sustained. Low Impact Development (LID) ’green infrastructure’, which is essentially a suite of options for the developer and design professional’s toolbox, has been proven to not only improve the sustainability of development but to offer the potential to lower the cost of development. LID techniques can also provide benefits in water quality, natural habitat and flood control, and in the reduction of long term maintenance costs of storm water management while increasing quality of life and the livability of communities.

Founded in 2007, the Houston Land/Water Sustainability Forum was formed to provide exposure to the full range of these sustainability practices, to encourage their adoption through education, and their adaptation where needed for the conditions found in our local environment—and to foster creativity in both sustainable development and the regulatory structure that enables it.

Competition Objectives

  • Provide a hands-on learning experience through which design, construction and development professionals in the Houston area will gain meaningful experience in working with Low Impact Development methodologies that can be applied to their everyday practices.
  • Demonstrate to local design professionals, and to the development and civic communities, the economic, environmental and marketing benefits that are available to those developers and local governmental entities who adopt and innovate with respect to sustainable site development.
  • Encourage through the body of work represented by the entries submitted, greater use of these beneficial techniques for sustainable development in our area.
  • Recognize the participants and finalist design teams for their creativity, innovation and application of sustainable site design.


  • Each entry must come from an integrated design team consisting of a minimum of three licensed participants, including at least one Civil Engineer, one Architect and one Landscape Architect. The Architect member may be replaced by an engineer with transportation expertise on teams competing in the Green Roadway design challenge.
  • The inclusion of team members from the Land Planning, Development, Homebuilding and Construction disciplines, including students, is strongly encouraged.
  • Individuals may not participate on more than one team competing in the same Design Challenge Category.
  • There are no limits on the number of individuals from a single firm that may participate in the competition as members of teams.
  • Teams with members who are based outside the Houston area are welcome, but at least one member of each team must be verifiably Houston-based. A Houston-based member must be one of the required design professionals.

Competition Calendar

 September 1, 2009
 October 31, 2009
 December 14, 2009
 January 11, 2010
 January 27, 2010

Registration opens. Competition Begins.
Registration closes at midnight. EXTENDED UNTIL NOVEMBER 7TH
Entry submittals must be received by 4:00 PM. Competition ends.
Finalists announced.
Finals Event and Awards Program.


  • Click here for Registration Form.
  • A Registration fee of $250 must accompany the completed Registration Form.
  • Each Registration Form must:
    • Indicate the Design Project Challenge Category that will be the subject of the team’s entry
    • Identify at least two of the required design professional team members
    • In the event that individuals are not able to be identified at the time of Registration, a firm name may be substituted
  • In the event that all team members are not identified on the original Registration Form, entry submissions must include a revised Registration Form which includes any individuals who were not originally listed on the original Registration Form and must include all team member information requested, including signatures.
  • Upon acceptance of the Registration, an Identifying Number will be provided to the team via e-mail. This number must be placed on ALL materials submitted, including the first page of the electronic submission, and on any and all correspondence. No other indentifying marks are allowable.

Design Goals

  • Conserve natural resources that provide natural functions associated with controlling and filtering storm water.
  • Use decentralized, small-scale landscape features and LID Integrated Management Practices (IMP) to work as a system to:
    • Reduce the amount of runoff by mimicking the natural hydrologic function of the site and matching pre-development hydrology.
    • Minimize the use of and/or reduce the size of pipe and other centralized control and treatment infrastructure.
    • Lower the total cost of development when compared to traditional infrastructure design.
  • Minimize and disconnect impervious surfaces, lengthen time of concentration and promote bio-filtration of runoff to improve the quality of storm water leaving the site.
  • Minimize or eliminate the use of potable water resources needed for irrigation and where practical provide for the reuse of rain water.
  • Use enhanced quality of life values and reduced maintenance costs inherent in LID practices to increase marketability of the development and long term property values.                                                                                

Design Challenge Categories                         

Each design challenge represents an actual property for which the owner has an interest in developing utilizing the sustainable methods to be showcased in this competition. In an effort to provide the opportunity for the broadest professional participation, entries will be accepted in the following three Challenge categories.

Suburban Residential Development

  • Click here for Criteria and program for this project.
  • Design Challenge property data is provided by Mischer Investments, LP.
  • The challenge project is based on a 640 acre master planned community, which is to be constructed in the suburban West Houston-Katy area.

Urban Re-Development

  • Click here for Criteria and program for this project.
  • Design Challenge venue will be provided by the City of Houston and TIRZ 15.
  • This challenge will involve developing a new pedestrian promenade in East Downtown Houston. The project will encompass six blocks of right of way connecting a proposed downtown soccer stadium and a proposed new City park to honor our Chinese Sister City. This 24-7 thoroughfare and related projects will be the centerpiece of a major new revitalization plan for downtown Houston.

Green Roadway Project

  • Click here for Criteria and program for this project.
  • Design Challenge Road section will be provided by Harris County, Precinct 2.
  • The project will entail developing a new sustainable standard road section for existing county roadways which are to be expanded from a typical two-lane section with ditches on either side, to a four lane section with center median.

Available information such as Site Plans, maps, soils information, pre-development conditions, drainage outfall and other available information are provided for each category, and represent actual data from the site involved.

Submission Requirements

  • All entry submissions must be received no later than 4:00 PM December 14, 2009.
  • Each entry must be submitted as follows:
    • At least one, but no more than two foamcore presentation boards (30”x 40”), on which the team’s key concepts and elements of the design are presented visually, including a summary of the economic and hydrologic modeling results. Selected boards will be displayed, with identifying team information, at the Finals Event and Awards Program, and may be used in a traveling exhibit, following the competition.
    • An electronic submission package must be provided on CD or USB drive, in Power Point (PPT) format which includes:
      • All images and data contained on the foamcore presentation boards submitted with the entry.
      • Images of all drawings, plans and details.
      • A written overview, presenting the design team’s concept.
      • Justification for the hydrologic/drainage modeling used to develop design conclusions
      • An explanation of project costs and an economic comparison with the same project if developed using traditional methods.
      • Submission plan sets must include at a minimum:  Site Plans, Drainage Plans, Landscape and Irrigation Plans, Elevations, Details.
    • Electronic submissions are limited to a maximum of 30 Power Point pages.
  • Submissions must include no identifying features or marks which might reveal the identity of any member of the design team or any organization that may be represented by members of the team.
  • Submissions must include a revised Registration Form which includes any team members who were not originally listed on the original Registration Form and must include all team member information requested, including signatures. This form must be submitted in a sealed envelope and marked on the outside with the team’s identifying number.
  • Submissions must also include an identification card (8.5”x11”) containing team, and team member identification for display with the team’s presentation boards at the Finals Event and Awards Program. These cards must also to be submitted in a sealed envelope on which the team’s Identifying Number is prominently displayed.
  • A Submittal Guidelines (PPT format) may be viewed/downloaded by clicking here

Expert Judging – Stage One

  • The first round of judging for each Project Design Challenge will be conducted by a panel of five Expert Judges, each with pertinent experience and expertise.
  • The following individuals comprise the Expert Judges:

    • Civil Engineering 
    •  Low Impact Development 
      • Larry Coffman
        President, LNSB, LLLP Stormwater Services Group, Chesapeake Beach, MD
    • Architecture 
  • Finalists will be determined by the scoring of the Expert Judges.
  • For Finalists, the Expert Judges’ scores will represent 80% of their total final score.

Finals Jury Presentations – Stage Two

  • In the second stage of the competition, Finalists will present their entries, verbally and through use of Power Point, to an esteemed local Jury Panel made up of interested and influential leaders in the Houston area from the development, civic and government community.
    • Tickets will be available to the public for the Finals Event and Awards Program and the event will be highly publicized and promoted.
    • Click here for tickets and more information on the finals Event and Awards Program
    • This event will bring together all contestants and other design, development and construction professionals as well as civic and governmental leaders from throughout the area.
    • Selected entries, in addition to the Finalists’ submissions will be displayed with team name and member identities, in the public areas of the hall utilized for this program. Attendees will be encouraged to arrive early to allow ample time to view all entries.
  • Finalists must utilize a “Lightning Presentations Format” to present their design challenge solutions to the Jury Panel. This format is designed to make each presentation short, exciting and to the point, and will allow for participation of a maximum number of semi-finalists.
    • Each Finalist team will have up to 7 minutes to make their presentation.
    • A maximum of 20 Power Point pages (slides) may be utilized in the presentation.
    • Regardless of the number of pages used, the presentation must be set up on a timed sequencing routine to advance each slide. No remote slide changers will be permitted.
    • For more information on presenting using ‘Lightning’ and similar fast-paced presentation techniques, see the following website:
  • The scores of the Jury Panel will account for 20% of the Total Final Score for each Finalist entry and will be combined with the Expert Judges scores from Stage One to determine the winners in each category.
  • Tabulation of Jury Panel scores and Total Final scores, and the determination of winners will take place immediately after the finalists make their presentations.
    • A short intermission (approximately 30 minutes) while tabulations are made will provide attendees with time for networking, viewing of the presentation boards submitted by entrants and conversation.


  • Presentation of Awards to the winners will be the highlight and culmination of the Finals Presentations and Awards Program.
  • A cash prize in the amount of $15,000 will be awarded to the winner in each Project Design Challenge Category.
    • Suburban Residential Development Category
      • The prize for this category is to be awarded by Mischer Investments, LP.
    • Urban Re-Development
      • The prize for this category is to be awarded by the Architecture Center Houston Foundation.
    • Green Roadway
      • The prize for this category is to be awarded by ASCE-Houston.


More Information on Low Impact Development

Design Competition Google Groups Forum

Moderated discussions can be found on our Google Groups page:

  • Team Finder
    • If you’re interested in joining a team, post here.
  • Teammate Finder
    • If you’re looking for a teammate, post here.
  • Questions & Answers
    • If you have questions about the competition or the rules, post here.


Google Groups
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