Groups ask for green roof

Two student organizations are working with administrators to raise $18,000 for the installation of a structure that could save the University money in electric bills.

Green GW and Net Impact have raised $7,000 of a needed $25,000 to place a green roof atop the Elliott School of International Affairs. The vegetative structure would consist of soil, plants, a waterproof membrane and a drainage system.

“This is about having a symbolic demonstration of GW’s commitment to environmental sustainability and creating awareness among students, faculty, alumni and other stake holders around the university,” said Brett Kaplan, a graduate student who has helped spearhead the project.

Kaplan, a member of Net Impact, is working with his group to compile research to present to the University administrators who will need to approve the project.

“It’s important because it places us on the map in terms of keeping up with universities that have already instituted similar projects, and to get ahead of the ones that haven’t so that GW is recognized as a leader in sustainability,” said David Goucher, Net Impact’s vice president of environmental initiatives.

The 2,000 square-foot green roof would be installed on the City View room terrace in the Elliott School. The roof acts as a stable living ecosystem, enabling the roof underneath it to last up to two times longer and decreasing storm water runoff.

GreenGW received a $5,000 Socially Responsible Initiative grant for the project, and received $2,000 more from the 2007 Green Campus Fund. The Student Association administers the SRI grant, which consists of $25,000 from the University that student organizations can apply for throughout the year.

“I think we’re presenting this as a good incentive to the University that we have already raised $7,000 for the project,” said Spencer Olson, director of policy for GreenGW.

Olson said the green roof will absorb carbon and other pollutants and will also keep the building cooler, saving the University money in electricity fees.

Kaplan noted that the project, on a small-scale level, would not have a huge environmental impact, but would be used as a pilot project to show the benefits of green roofs on a larger scale.

“Ideally professors would also use this for academic research opportunities to study habitats, storm water runoff projects and things of that nature,” Kaplan said. Professors in the business and engineering schools have already expressed interest in researching what the roof can do.

American recently installed a 7,000 square-foot green roof. The University of North Carolina and Harvard University also have green roofs. Georgetown has a similar project in the works.

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