News from CURES
CURES Discussion Panel - Superstom Sandy: Six Months After
On April 23rd CURES hosted an interdisciplinary panel discussion entitled “Superstorm Sandy: Six Months After” , which examined the recovery status of areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, particularly New York City and Long Island, as well as future plans to strengthen coastline resilience. The panel consisted of four qualified speakers—Stephen Couch of the Army Corps of Engineers, Dr. Michael Judge from the Biology Department, Dr. Pamela Chasek from the Government Department, and Dart Westphal from the Urban Studies Department as well as a representative in community groups like the Harlem River Working Group. Each speaker touched on a different aspect of recovery efforts and future plans to reduce risk through coastline resilience. Mr. Couch spoke about the severity of the storm, which broke the record for highest storm surge in the region, and the large extent of the damage it caused, with 650,000 houses affected and 72 people killed. He also touched on the role of the Army Corps of Engineers in recovery projects like removing debris, closing breaches in the barrier islands, and maintaining beach nourishment to reduce the risk of future flooding. Dr. Chasek shifted toward the policy side of the issue during her presentation, in which she laid out the problems associated with either the relocation of coastline residents or the increased use of federal tax money to continually rebuild after storms like Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Westphal brought up the local effects of storm damage and described projects in the community to reduce storm runoff and combined sewer overflows through natural processes such as restored wetlands. Lastly, Dr. Judge spoke about the ecological impact of the storm, and how coastlines are a dynamic environment, which makes built infrastructure along them vulnerable. The panel demonstrated the complexity of environmental problems and the necessity of interdisciplinary cooperation to find their solutions.
Engineering Students Present Sustainable Design for Leo GreenHouse
On the afternoon of Thursday, March 7th, Biohouse Technologies--eight mechanical engineering students studying under Dr. Bahman Litkouhi--presented a sustainable redesign for the greenhouse on the roof of Leo Hall to a large audience of students, faculty, and administrators. Currently under-utilized, the site lacks proper irrigation, insulation, and computer technology, making it difficult to water plants or maintain stable temperatures. The Biohouse team’s comprehensive vision of a completely restored and redesigned greenhouse features renewable energy technologies, including a wind turbine, solar cells, rainwater capturing systems, hydroponic cells, and an automation control system for monitoring the efficiency of the site. Motivation for this project developed from the college’s renewed interest in sustainability issues and a commitment to research in the design and implementation of sustainable technologies. The design would directly serve students in the sciences and engineering by providing a state-of-the-art research lab and learning center. Plans for the future include building a miniature model of the redesigned site, completing an HVAC analysis, and constructing an initial miniature wind turbine. Watch the student presentation and a virtual walk-through of the space on the CURES YouTube site here!
CURES to Partner With Area Non-Profit in Local Food Initiative
Manhattan College’s Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES) has partnered with Groundwork Hudson Valley to offer a unique food internship opportunity to three undergraduate students. The opportunity developed from a food health initiative created by Groundwork, an environmental restoration and community development non-profit located in the city of Yonkers. In addition to projects related to the restoration of the Saw Mill River and the organization of local community garden, Groundwork runs a developing farmers market, currently entering its third year. The intent of the market is to bring fresh local quality produce to downtown Yonkers at affordable prices.
The Manhattan College interns will plant, grow, and harvest produce from the college’s rooftop garden, located on the parking garage, to support Groundwork’s “Get Fresh Yonkers Farm Coop.” In exchange for education in urban farming techniques, hydroponics, and market skills, the interns will help drive the price of market produce downward. This partnership aligns with the college’s LaSallian values of education and service as well as a renewed commitment to research, teaching, and community outreach in urban resilience and sustainability.
Inaugaral Event Features David Orr
On February 5, 2013 CURES hosted its inaugural event featuring David W. Orr, professor at Oberlin College and a national leader in sustainable design. Orr's lecture entitled Designing Resilience in a Black Swan World explains how communities can survive and be prosperous in the face of "Black Swan" events like extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. In order to achieve positive results with minimum environmental impacts, the community model must be self-resilient with each component reinforcing one another. Orr describes this concept as full spectrum sustainability, which takes a holistic approach to our environmental crisis. This talk sets the tone for the interdisciplinary pursuit of CURES and the strategic vision of Manhattan College to move forward in achieving and teaching sustainable principles. .You can watch the lecture here!
Environmental Politics Class Explores Bringing Solar to MC
As part of the College’s sustainability initiative, the Environmental Politics class taught by Dr. Pam Chasek is currently working on a project to assess the possibilities for renewable energy on campus. The group of students will focus on the capacity for solar energy to generate electricity for two of the main academic buildings on campus — O’Malley Library and Hayden Hall.
- Build 40,000-square-feet of solar panels on the vacant roof of the parking garage
- Feed the 405,000 watts of power to both buildings via transmission lines (system will meet the total daytime electricity demands of both the Library and Hayden Hall)
- Install solar lampposts in the Leo parking lot
These proposals would provide substantial economic savings, a reduced carbon footprint, and excellent hands-on experience for students interested in the environmental field. At the end of the semester, the students will give a detailed presentation to the administration with the hope that these plans will be realized in the future.
Manhattan College's First Rooftop Garden
This past June, six students worked to build Manhattan College's first rooftop garden atop the school's Broadway parking garage. The project's purpose was to explore the feasibility and benefits of urban agriculture.
- 300-square-feet of growing space
- Self-watered by a system of sub-irrigated planters created from simple resources such as recycled five-gallon buckets, rain gutters, storage bins and piping
- Produced peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, swiss chard and herbs for use in the College's dining halls
- 40,000-square-feet of undeveloped real estate that could offer plenty of room for garden expansion
- Benefits include reducing storm water runoff, air pollutants and heat island effect.
The College's Green Club will help maintain the space in the coming semesters and has discussed donating portions of the food to charities to benefit lower income households. Other potential uses of the produce could include starting a College farmer's market.
The Green Club’s trip to the Science Barge
On October 14th the Green Club made a trip to the Science Barge, a recycled barge located in the downtown Yonkers Harbor. The boat has been transformed into a center for educating students and adults alike on issues relating food security, renewable energy, water harvesting, and composting.
- A variety of small-scale hydroponics systems growing a variety of crops ranging from watermelon to papyrus all inside a greenhouse attached to the deck
- A series of wind turbines and solar panels that are able to meet the boats energy needs
- An opportunity to learn about composting using worms to eat through vegetable waste produced by the boat