New green roof shows sustainability effort at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia

December 7, 2011

Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia completed the construction of a new green roof on its science center last year, the first part of a new movement for the school in creating more sustainable and energy efficient buildings, the Main Line Times reported.

This "vegetated" roof is made up of sections that were installed using different materials and plants, and uses new technology to curtail stormwater runoff.

Scientists at the school are able to study and compare the performance of the individual components of the roof over time, according to the news source.

Michael McCann, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a biology professor, took visitors on a November 19 tour of the building and its roof. He did this as part of a workshop on stormwater management.

"All data will be publicly shared next year," McCann told the news source of the potential findings for the effort.

According to the Times, the roof was part of a project for which the Philadelphia-based university received a $1 million federal grant through the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program.

The DOE has issued grants as part of a way to get businesses, universities and local governments to invest in energy efficient buildings and technology. Philadelphia was chosen as a specific innovation hub by the organization for energy efficiency in buildings.

The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC) is a national hub, but operates specifically at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in the Greater Philadelphia Region.

This historically recognized region encompasses 10 contiguous counties situated in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southwestern New Jersey, and due to its location, the GPIC directly impacts one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas.

The GPIC uses the substantial building stock in the region to "validate and deploy HUB discoveries." The Philadelphia Navy Yard provides the effort with access to the technical expertise of the area's citizens, helping to grow and sustain a viable research and deployment center.

There are 92 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia region, and a number of these institutions are core members and partners with the GPIC. These students and local residents are targeted for the next round of workers on the project, due to the prominence of knowledge-based industries in the area.