The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, a competition sponsored by the Buckminster Fuller Institute to recognize initiatives that take a comprehensive and anticipatory design approach to advance human well-being and the health of the planet’s ecosystem, named its 2010 winners in a ceremony in Washington, DC. Operation Hope, an initiative that aims to reverse desertification of African grasslands in Zimbabwe, won the grand prize of $100,000.

Submitted by the Africa Center for Holistic Management (ACHM), the Operation aims to reverse desertification through holistic management of livestock; ACHM has used planned grazing on 6,500 acres of Zimbabwean grasslands.  

ACHM was one of six finalists, including several dealing with the built environment. Watergy, a Berlin-based project that has developed a closed system greenhouse for use in water-scarce regions, was named first runner-up. The Living Building Challenge, developed by the International Living Building Institute, and UrbanLab, a project that re-envisions Chicago’s street grid as a bio-system that captures, cleans, and returns 100 percent of the city’s wastewater and storm water to area lakes, were named as honorable mentions. Two other honorable mentions were given to Brooklyn, N.Y.-based BK Farmyards, a Web-based crowdsourcing platform focused on advancing urban farming, and Barefoot College, a program that teaches rural women in India and Africa to be solar engineers.

This year’s finalists and winner were chosen from an initial pool of 250 entrants. Entrants were judged on whether they were comprehensive (in that they apply a whole-systems approach to the design and development process and address multiple goals, requirements, conditions, and issues), anticipatory of future trends and needs, ecologically responsible, feasible, verifiable, and replicable.

 All of this year’s entries will be compiled in The Idea Index, an online, searchable catalog of each year’s entrants since the Challenge’s founding in 2007. Currently more than 700 solutions are available online at