Cindy Zork

Sign up by September 15 to take part in this team-based challenge.

USGBC Tennessee’s Paper Power program challenges teams of Memphis-area high school students to construct innovative structures using recycled paper products. The program builds teamwork, encourages creativity and increases awareness about waste management and sustainability. Participants from local design and construction companies also provide students with insight into careers in green building.

Paper Power is a project connected with Green Apple Day of Service, an international campaign working with schools to prepare the next generation of global leaders in sustainability.

2018 Paper Power competition

USGBC Tennessee, in partnership with Memphis Public Libraries, will host the fifth annual Paper Power competition:

When: Sat., September 29, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Where: Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38111

The competition is open to teams of high school students, as well as teams of professional building and design leaders. Registration is free for student teams. Professional teams may register for a fee, with proceeds supporting the event. More information about the program is below, including resources and examples of past projects.

Register for either competition by Fri., September 15.

Paper Power program goals

The goals of the program are to

  • Provide a hands-on experience for high school students to think creatively about design and construction techniques.
  • Raise awareness about waste production and management through paper reuse and recycling.
  • Expose students to careers in sustainability and green building. 

Schedule of events

Information Session: Tues., September 4, 5:30–6:30 p.m., Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, Meeting Room C. Join this program overview to learn about team expectations and tips for building your structures.

Build and Competition Day: Sat., September 29, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.

9–9:45 a.m.: Breakfast and material prep. Teams may use this time to load materials into the space, but may not begin building until the official program start at 10 a.m.

9:45–10 a.m.: Program introductions and official project kick-off.

10 a.m.–3 p.m.: Build time! Lunch will be made available for program participants from 12–1 p.m.

3–4 p.m.: Competition judging and student/professional exchange. While the projects are being judged, students will meet with project team leaders from the professional competition to learn about careers in sustainability.

4–5 p.m.: Awards ceremony and reception. Refreshments provided by event sponsors. Become a sponsor of the program.

Program requirements and guidelines

Download the Paper Power program guide for full details.

  • All Paper Power structures must be created out of recycled materials. Building materials and construction tools (pencils, rulers, scissors, etc.) need to be sourced by the project team. Since all projects will be recycled after the event, all materials, including adhesives, must be recyclable. Download the Paper Power program guide for a list of suggested materials. 
  • There are no restrictions on the style of the structure—be creative! Examples of past entries are below. Structures can be no larger than 10 feet wide by 10 feet long by 10 feet tall.
  • Structures must have an accompanying handwritten sign that is 11 inches by 17 inches. This sign will display the name of the structure, the team name, participant names and a three- to five-sentence description of the structure.
  • All building will take place at the library between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the day of the competition. Materials may be loaded into the space between 9 and 9:45 a.m. 
  • Student project teams must consist of between two and seven student members and one or two adult mentors. During the build day, team mentors are permitted to give verbal guidance, but cannot directly help with building the structures. Professional teams may consist of up to seven team members.

After construction is complete, judges will review the projects and select winners for the following categories:

Student competition

  • Judge’s Choice
  • Structural Integrity
  • High-Tech Design
  • Best Signage
  • Honorable Mention

Professional competition

  • Judge’s Choice
  • Honorable Mention

Registration for both the student and professional competitions is open until September 15, 2018.

Paper Power project examples

USGBC Tennessee Paper Power program

Sponsor Paper Power

Support sustainability education by helping USGBC power Paper Power! We are looking for event sponsors in the following categories:

  • $150 Professional Competition Entry: Participate in the professional competition. Professional teams may consist of between two and seven individuals from your organization. Team members will have a chance to connect with participating high school students to discuss careers in sustainability during the student/professional exchange following the build.
  • $250 Prize Sponsor: Participate in the professional competition and sponsor one of the gift baskets for our student award winners. Your logo will be displayed on the gift basket and all marketing materials associated with the 2018 competition, including participant t-shirts. (Limited to five sponsors.)
  • $400 Breakfast and Lunch Sponsor: Receive a complimentary entry to the professional competition, logo recognition on all marketing materials associated with the 2018 competition, including participant t-shirts, and the opportunity to display company materials at the breakfast and lunch tables at the event. (Limited to three sponsors.)
  • $800 Signature Sponsor: Receive a complimentary entry to the professional competition, prominent logo recognition on all marketing materials associated with the 2018 competition, including participant t-shirts, the opportunity to display company materials at the registration table and the opportunity to introduce one of the student prize categories. (Limited to five sponsors.)

If you are interested in participating in the professional competition, register by September 15, 2018. If you’d like to sponsor Paper Power, contact Cindy Zork, Director, Community–USGBC Tennessee.

Download the Paper Power sponsorship brochure.

Thank you to our 2018 sponsors! Our Lunch Sponsor is Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. Our Prize Sponsors are Looney Ricks Kiss, Grinder Taber Grinder, Memphis Reprographics, CSA Structures and Smith Seckman Reid.

Facts about paper

According to the U.S. EPA, each year, the United States uses about 69 million tons of paper and paperboard. By weight, paper accounts for about half of all recyclables collected in the U.S. In 2013, the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 275 pounds for each person living in the U.S.

Recycling one ton of paper

  • Saves enough energy to power the average American home for six months.
  • Saves 7,000 gallons of water.
  • Saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton of carbon equivalent.

In addition to recognizable paper products like writing paper or paper towels, more than 5,000 products can be made from recycled paper, including:

  • Masking tape
  • Paper money
  • Globes
  • Bandages
  • Dust masks
  • Hospital gowns
  • Coffee filters
  • Lamp shades
  • Car insulation
  • Animal bedding
  • Planting pots for seedlings
  • Egg cartons

Download the Paper Power Program Guide to get started