Editorial: Many small changes contribute to UConn's sustainable campus
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 22:09
In August 2013, Sierra Magazine named UConn the “Coolest School” in terms of its environmental sustainability. While there are many larger moves UConn has parceled out in terms of environmental sustainability, this piece serves to discuss many of the smaller ventures to maintain an environmentally friendly campus. More accurately, this will answer the question of the purpose of the sinkhole by CT Commons. Regardless, UConn has made impressive strides towards a greener campus.
During the summer, the few people still on campus were privy to the construction on the parking lot between School of Business and CT Commons. During that time, UConn instituted porous pavement and bio-retention swales in the center of its parking lot areas. The porous pavement can be seen if you look closely, but the only material difference between it and traditional asphalt is that porous pavement is made without finer materials and has small cracks to let in storm water. This storm water is let through the pavement and is collected in a stone recharge bed. From there, the water can be directly applied to the soil underneath. This is important as it increases groundwater recharge, or rather, the process by which groundwater for soil is replenished (traditionally by rain or other surface water) and something typical pavement is usually a deterrent to.
Bio-retention swales, on the other hand, but use their vegetation to properly filter pollutants from the rainwater. The rainwater then flows down to nourish the soil. This system seeks to artificially recreate terrestrial forests or meadow ecosystems. Not only does it remove harmful pollutants, but it is also an effective storm water management system and prevents runoff.
There is more to discuss regarding environmentally friendly measures at UConn such as their green roofs. First installed on Gant Plaza, UConn boasts a few of these green roofs including on Laurel Hall. They work to prevent air and water pollution as stated by the professor and graduate student in charge of the projects, Jack Clausen and Bruce G. Gregoire, respectively in their paper: “Roof top surfaces contribute heavily to pollution (excess nutrients and toxic metals) in standing water supplies. The goal of the green roof is to reduce water runoff, which will reduce air and water pollution as well as by retaining water, reduce water consumption.”
To be fair, these smaller initiatives aren’t as large scale as the $25 million dollar reclaimed water treatment facility that saves approximately 230,000 gallons of drinking water on an average day by substituting potable water with treated wastewater to run and cool down the CoGeneration power plant. However, each of these measures encompasses the overall message of UConn’s environmental policy and creates a greener atmosphere on campus.