New Kennedy Union Rooftop Garden

Can Lower Energy Costs; Reduce, Filter Water Runoff

DAYTON, Ohio —  Inspired by environmental biology and sustainability, energy and the environment students, and led by the Hanley Sustainability Institute and facilities management, the University of Dayton Kennedy Union rooftop garden will provide a campus hub for sustainability education, improved aesthetics and a cooler roof that can lower the building's energy costs, and send cleaner water into storm sewers.

"Our charge with the gift from George and Amanda Hanley is to become a national leader in sustainability education," said Hanley Sustainability Institute Director of Student Engagement Katie Schoenenberger. "Our focus is providing experiential learning opportunities for students and engaging the broader campus and Dayton communities in conversations about sustainability. This will provide a visible sustainability project on campus where we can have those conversations."

In 2014, the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation gave the University $12.5 million — the largest single gift in University history — to support the University's sustainability education initiatives and establish the Hanley Sustainability Institute.

The Kennedy Union rooftop garden project started in August with political science, geology, engineering and computer science students installing temperature sensors. The students will compare before and after readings to see how temperature changes affect energy costs.

In all, about 40 students from those disciplines and the Hanley Sustainability Institute will be part of the project, and the hope is to include more in the future.

In addition to sensor research, Schoenenberger said the rooftop garden will contain seven pods of sedam, succulent plants that can thrive in hot, dry environments. The garden will cover 1,860 square feet (a third of the roof) and will be a future research site for native plants and climate data collection.

"We'll have signage for our projects, so anyone visiting the roof will understand what is happening there. We can incorporate the roof into tours as a launching pad for people to see what the University is doing sustainability-wise," she said.

Dayton-based Enterprise Roofing will assist the Hanley Sustainability Institute, facilities management and students with installing the rooftop garden, which still will be available for events and will retain its lunchtime seating area. Installation is set for the second week of September.

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