Black and gold turns to green
Humans are giving Mother Nature a massive headache with their pollution of the air, land and water, and everyone from the Vatican to the U.S. government is starting to take notice. But some Purdue students, alumni, faculty and staff are finding out that you don’t have to be the pope or Al Gore to make a difference.
Take Amelie Davis, for example. She has always been a recycler, but when she came to Purdue seeking a doctorate in forestry and natural resources, she had no idea just how involved she’d become in a potentially world-changing movement.
While she was walking on campus one day, a flier caught Davis’ eye. It invited students to become part of the Boiler Green Initiative — a new club working to raise environmental awareness at Purdue.
That was three years ago, and now, along with about 30 other BGI members, Davis is pushing Purdue to recycle more and asking the administration to consider adopting greener philosophies and building practices on campus.
One of BGI’s largest undertakings is the Green Roof Project — an initiative to place special grass roofing systems atop campus buildings. Green roofs consist of low-maintenance vegetation that increases roof life, serves as insulation to reduce energy waste and noise pollution, and reduces rainwater runoff.
“The Green Roof Project started as a class project for a group of horticulture and landscape architecture students whose lab overlooked a boring old roof,” Davis says. “But while it does make the tops of buildings more attractive, the green roof system does so much more.”
The students of BGI adopted the Green Roof Project in 2004 and since have been researching the best roofing systems and installation methods and seeking grants to make the project a reality.
“We started trying to decide which buildings on campus would be candidates for our first green roof,” Davis says. “Because the roofs have to have been newly resurfaced before the green system can be installed, we narrowed it down to buildings with relatively flat roofs that had been resurfaced within the last year.”
The terrace on Mann Hall, a research facility in Purdue’s Discovery Park, was the winning candidate.
With an estimated cost of $60,000 to complete installation, Davis and her BGI counterparts are pursuing grants and hoping that construction can begin within a year.
“For me, being green means being environmentally aware and decreasing our footprints — that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Davis says. “Eventually, we’d like for all new Purdue buildings to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, but in the meantime, we’re doing the best we can to reduce the campus footprint.”