Three juniors at Hillcrest High School took top honors in a Riverside Public Utilities essay contest that queried local youth for their ideas on sustainable home design, officials announced Thursday.
Students were asked to write an essay between 800 and 1,500 words in length that included a design idea incorporating either water or energy conservation. The contest was open to individual students in grades 9-12 living in or attending public or private school in Riverside Public Utilities’ service area.
“The students’ essays show a real depth of knowledge and understanding of the issues facing our local utility and California overall,” RPU Board Chair Gil Oceguera said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have such bright young people as part of our effort to build a more sustainable city, state and nation.”
First place went to James To, whose essay “The Importance of Sustainable Home Design” dealt with the use of environmentally friendly building materials to reduce carbon emissions as well as prefab housing, which uses fewer materials, requires less labor saving time and money and often produces less building waste.
Jacob Lattig won second place with his essay “An Attainable Sustainable Home Design,” which focused on water conservation techniques in new home builds, siting for optimum indoor lighting and new developments in solar technology, such as replacing windows with clear glass solar panels.
Third place went to Giselle Flores, whose essay “Water Conservation: Motion-Sensored Faucets” focused on saving water through the use of bathroom faucets equipped with motion sensors — which is especially useful for small children.
RPU employees judged the essays. Judges, who included engineers from a variety of engineering disciplines, relied on a set of criteria to determine the winners: effectiveness in communicating ideas fully, demonstrating understanding of sustainable living, accuracy of research, incorporation of technical information to support ideas, creativity, originality in content selection, grammar, spelling and mechanics.
“Sustainability and climate change are two of the biggest issues facing our industry,” RPU General Manager Todd Corbin said in a statement. “These students demonstrated a real understanding of those challenges, and they have bright futures ahead of them.”
Monetary prizes totaled $600 for first, $400 for second and $200 for third, officials said.
More information on the 2022 and earlier essay contests is available at riversideca.gov/utilities/about-rpu/education-programs/essay-contest.