Can plants on rooftops help cities control storm water runoff? Third-year CCNY civil engineering student Gary Chan has won a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to help find the answer.
Chan began his research a year ago under Civil Engineering Prof. Megan B. Wiley a co-founder of the Environmental Engineering Entrepreneurship Partnership program at the college.
Chan planted a 200-square foot “green” or vegetated rooftop atop Steinman Hall, which houses the college’s School of Engineering. “My aim is to demonstrate how green roofs can play a dramatic role in confronting the problems of storm water runoff,” said Chan. “In cities such as New York, where the sewage and storm water systems are combined, combined sewage overflows are a real threat to the surrounding marine and coastal environment any time there’s heavy rain.”
The green roof will be monitored for a year before data collected is evaluated. Prof. Wiley said there is a good deal of interest in the rooftop study from engineering consultants, New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection and others. “In theory green roofs make sense for New York,” she said, “but data from a carefully designed experiment are key to guiding the level of investment and methods of implementation.”
The grant to Chan, one of 15 awarded to undergraduates nationwide, provides $24,500 for academic support and a summer internship at an EPA facility. This raises to nearly $500,000 the total that Prof. Wiley and her collaborators at the EEEP have received in federal funding.
For more information, go to GREENPROOFING.org.