NEW YORK, April 18, 2007 – A group of students at The City College of New York (CCNY) are learning entrepreneurship and environmentalism by building a business to help Harlem residents and property owners retrofit buildings with green roofs.
Their venture, called Greenproofing, is the business arm of CCNY’s interdisciplinary Environmental Engineering and Entrepreneurship Program (E.E.P.). In preparation for its commercial rollout, the students are currently engaged in projects at five New York City public high schools. One of the projects is supported by a grant from a major home improvement retailer.
“We want to help Harlem property owners install green roofs and develop opportunities for local entrepreneurship at the same time,” said Cory Ip, a CCNY junior majoring in Earth Systems Science and Environmental Engineering. “We’re working with schools now, but want to work with community groups, as well.”
Green roofs are vegetated roof covers, with growing media (soil) and plants replacing bare membrane, gravel ballast, shingles or tiles. In addition to mitigating storm water runoff, they can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by helping to keep urban buildings cool during hot weather. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently called for a 30 percent reduction in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to help fight global warming.
The students chose to focus on green roofs after one of their cohorts, Gary Chan, a senior civil engineering major, received a $24,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to install a green roof atop Steinman Hall, the home of CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering. http://www1.ccny.cuny.edu/advancement/pr/CCNY-HONORS-STUDENT-GARY-CHAN.cfm. Greenproofing has taken over the responsibility for maintaining and expanding Mr. Chan’s initial project.
Working with the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment, Greenproofing began consulting to New York high schools interested in green roofs and other sustainability projects. In addition to installing green roofs, the students are going into classrooms to educate students about their benefits
Earlier this month, Greenproofing received a $2,000 grant from Lowe’s, the national home improvement retail chain, to construct a native plant garden behind Manhattan Hunter Science High School. Other schools Greenproofing currently works with are the Urban Assembly School for the Urban Environment, Academy for Urban Planning and the Green School in Brooklyn and George Washington High School in Washington Heights.
“We’re using the opportunity of working with the schools to gain more experience and refine our business model before we go out and market our services to members of the Harlem community,” explained Katie Cole, a senior majoring in Earth & Atmospheric Sciences. She added that Greenproofing has had some preliminary meetings with community groups in Harlem to build awareness for green roofs.
In addition, Greenproofing is holding a symposium on Business, Sustainability, and Green Roofs, Friday, April 20, at The City College. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer will be keynote speaker. Over 150 students are expected to attend.
The E.E.P. program, which involves CCNY’s Civil Engineering, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and Economics Departments, was launched in 2004. It is supported through a five-year $500,000 grant from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Students chosen to participate have demonstrated genuine commitment to sustainability and environmental concerns and have achieved academic excellence, said Kevin Foster, CCNY Assistant Professor of Economics, and a faculty advisor to Greenproofing. They receive a $3,500 summer stipend plus $500 per semester over two years to support their activities with the program.
“Our objective is to support the development of environmentally conscious engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs of the future,” Professor Foster added. “At the same time, we are dedicated to increasing diversity in the field of environmentalism and sustainability.”
Greenproofing Web Site
About The City College of New York
For 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 13,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.
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