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Carnegie Mellon faculty members begin research projects at The Living Roof

Carnegie Mellon Universtity : 01 August, 2006  (Technical Article)
Carnegie Mellon University President Jared L. Cohon recently showcased a new $172,000 rooftop garden and ongoing research designed to promote the benefits of stormwater management and energy conservation on the south roof of Hamerschlag Hall.
The event, sponsored by the university's Environmental Green Practices Committee, was designed to show the university's commitment to helping solve some of the region's sewer and water runoff problems and to demonstrate the value of green roofs for improved energy efficiency in buildings.

'This project serves as a model and test case for our region,' said Dave Dzombak, co-chair of the Green Practices Committee and professor of civil and environmental engineering. 'Our region has a significant need for improved stormwater management, and green roofs can provide part of the solution. The research we are doing is aimed at development of monitoring protocols and measurement of the performance of our green roof with respect to stormwater retention and building insulation.'

'We're all very excited about this university initiative because it is really part of a larger initiative to improve water quality throughout the region,' said Joan Blaustein, project manager for the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program.

'Carnegie Mellon's rooftop garden is a perfect example of the innovative architectural design that can help us conserve energy, save resources and build a healthier Pennsylvania,' Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. 'The funding Governor Rendell provided for this project makes it possible to put in place new tools to help solve environmental problems like stormwater runoff and enhance Pennsylvania's reputation as a leader in the development and deployment of advanced energy technologies.'

The Hamerschlag Hall 'living-roof' project began four years ago when three Carnegie Mellon students applied for a Small Undergraduate Research Grant to study living roofs. Their initial study led to construction and design of a rooftop garden on the south roof the university's historic Hamerschlag Hall. The roof design includes grasses, perennials and a log with holes drilled to sustain insects. There is also a walkway for visitors to view the garden. Students from Carnegie Mellon's schools of Architecture and Art and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department designed and helped install the energy and stormwater monitoring systems on the roof.

Other event speakers included Maggie Hall, chief of the Office of Energy and Technology Deployment for the DEP's southwestern region; Diane Loviglio, the Carnegie Mellon student who started the living roof project; and Barb Kviz, university environmental coordinator at Carnegie Mellon and co-chair of the Green Practices Committee.

In February 2004, Gov. Edward G. Rendell awarded a $96,750 Pennsylvania Energy Harvest grant to Carnegie Mellon to help finance the living roof project. Energy Harvest funds projects that build markets for advanced and renewable energy technologies. The grant program has awarded $10 million and leveraged another $26.7 million in private funds since its inception in May 2003.

The 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program awarded $25,000 to the project to further their mission of improving water quality of Allegheny County's water resources by helping communities address the issue of untreated sewage and stormwater overflowing into the region's waterways.
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