Riverside Public Utilities

Essay Contest


In March 2022, the California Department of Housing and Community Development reported that by the year 2030, at least 2.5 million new homes, need to be built, with at least one million of those going to lower-income families.

The Challenge

While most would agree, every human being is entitled to a safe and affordable place to live, some have concerns about stretching our natural resources too thin if we begin large scale home building projects in Riverside.

Others see this as an opportunity to design living spaces that implement state of the art sustainability features, allowing residents to live happy, productive lives while reducing pollution, water, and energy use and utilizing the latest technologies in waste management and non-toxic building materials.

Writing Prompt

Using their own research, participants will write an 800–1500-word essay discussing their ideas for a sustainable home design. While the essay may include information about more than one sustainable feature, it MUST include a design idea incorporating either water or energy conservation. Essays may address single family or multi family homes but should address design ideas in detail and include information about how/why the design is sustainable.


The contest is open to individual students in grades 9-12 as of August 30, 2022, living in or attending public or private school in Riverside Public Utilities Service Area. (Verification required).

Rules and Requirements
  • Essay must be students original work, written in the students own words and written in English
  • Entry must be in essay form; be sure you understand the difference between a report and an essay
  • Essay must be 800-1500 words
  • Essay may not display the student’s name, school name or other personal, identifying information in the body of the essay
  • Essay may not have been previously published for any other contest or publication
  • One entry per student
  • Attribute quotes and any ideas that are not your own within the body of the essay. Do not use footnotes or endnotes.
  • Essays must be accompanied by bibliography of your source materials, written in the APA style.
  • Do not attach or add graphs, charts or graphic materials to the body of the essay
  • Essays must be received by 5:00pm PST on December 30, 2022
  • Essays will be judged by employees of Riverside Public Utilities, including but not limited to engineers from various engineering disciplines.
  • The decisions of judges are final and incontestable
  • Essays will be judged on effectiveness in communicating ideas fully, demonstrated understanding of sustainable living, accuracy of research, incorporation of technical information to support ideas, creativity, originality in content selection, grammar spelling and mechanics. 
  • Essays in the final judging round will be submitted to check for plagiarism.
Winning Essays
  • Winning essays will be announced in Spring 2023 prior to the end of the school year
  • First Prize -$600
  • Second Prize - $400
  • Third Prize - $200
  • Prizes will be awarded to individual winners or winner’s parent/guardian if under 18 years old
  • Any federal, state, local taxes and all similar fees and assessments are the sole responsibility of the prize recipient
How to Submit

Submission Portal will open on September 19, 2022 and close on December 30, 2022 5:00pm PST

Essay Contest 2022 Winners

A big round of applause for the 2022 Essay Contest winners! Their essays discussing ideas for a sustainable home and incorporating water and energy conservation are inspiring while giving us a glimpse into a future that is more mindful of how our actions impact the environment.

  • First Place - James To - Hillcrest High School
  • Second Place - Jacob Lattig - Hillcrest High School
  • Third Place - Giselle Flores - Hillcrest High School

Essay Contest 2021 Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 Essay Contest winners! Each student created a unique approach to writing an essay about how the field of engineering could be used to achieve the sustainability goals in the Envision Riverside 2025 Strategic Plan.

Todd Corbin - Utilities General Manger

First place - Pritesh Patel - Hillcrest High School

Second place - Patrick Pascual - Poly High School

Third Place - Kaylee Akison - Hillcrest High School

Essay Contest 2019 Winners

On March 10th and 12th, we announced the essay contest winners. All 3 students were called to the office and were surprised that they won the Essay Contest! We enjoyed getting to know the students and their parents and learned about their interest in the utility industry. Each student created a unique approach to writing their essay and these 3 students far exceeded our expectations. We can’t wait to do it again next year!

Third Place- Connor Godoy- Hillcrest High School

Second Place- Eric Marzouk- Hillcrest High School

First Place- Sean Summers- Encore High School