Grass not around but on top of Steinman Hall? Ask recent civil engineering alumnus Gary Chan not so much how but why does his CCNY garden grow?
Exploring the benefits of "green roofs" in the urban environment as part of an innovative interdisciplinary program in environmental entrepreneurship, Mr. Chan was one of 15 undergraduates nationwide awarded a Greater Research Opportunity grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The fellowship provided up to $17,000 in academic support annually plus up to $7,500 for a three-month summer internship at an EPA facility.
Mr. Chan's research entailed creating a green roof, or vegetated rooftop, on 200 square feet of Steinman Hall, the 45 year-old eight-story building housing CCNY's School of Engineering. The green roof was monitored for a year before the data was evaluated.
"Green roofs are emerging as a very effective means of addressing many of the environmental concerns that exist in today's urban centers," Mr. Chan explained. "My aim was to demonstrate how they can play a dramatic role in confronting the problems of storm water runoff. 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."
In addition, Mr. Chan's research attempted to determine the cost/benefit analysis for green roofs versus more traditional measures. The results of his study could yield further proof that green roofs can be one of the most environmentally friendly and economical solutions to combined sewage overflows in large cities.
Born in Manhattan to immigrant parents from Hong Kong, Mr. Chan began the project in his sophomore year at CCNY in collaboration with Civil Engineering Professor Megan B. Wiley, one of his mentors and a co-founder of the Environmental Engineering Entrepreneurship Partnership program. A joint initiative of the College's School of Engineering and Economics Department, the Program's mission is to support the development of environmentally conscious engineers and entrepreneurs of the future.
Professor Wiley said she was thrilled by the interest Mr. Chan's study had garnered. "We've been contacted by engineering consultants, the (New York City) Department of Environmental Protection and graduate students interested in our results," she said.