Inside Rensselaer
* A Living Class Gift: Creating a Green Roof on the Rensselaer Union

A Living Class Gift: Creating a Green Roof on the Rensselaer Union

(bottom) Rendering showing before and after of roof
Rendering courtesy of Ecovative Design
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A Living Class Gift: Creating a Green Roof on the Rensselaer Union

Each year at Commencement, the graduating class presents the university with a gift. A long-standing tradition at Rensselaer, the class gift symbolizes a type of philanthropy that exhibits pride, loyalty, and devotion to the Institute. Earlier this year, the Class of 2010 was excited to present a unique and spirited gift to the university: Raising more than half of the money needed for the creation of a “green roof” on the Rensselaer Union Bookstore.

A green roof — an example of a sustainability concept — is a plant-based multipurpose roofing choice capable of rain water filtration and collection, thermal energy improvements, cleaner and cooler ambient air, and general public enjoyment.

Over the last few months, members of the class have been working with the Student Sustainability Task Force and Campus Planning and Facilities Design to raise funds and coordinate the project. To date, 241 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and student groups have donated the initial $34,500 to support the project. Within this group, 160 members of the class — representing 16 percent — have donated to the project, a record participation level. The class hopes to raise $55,000 in total to complete the project.

“It’s been very exciting to watch this project grow from its infancy to what it has become in recent months,” said Class of 2010 President Samuel Punshon-Smith ’10, who is continuing his graduate studies in mathematics at Rensselaer. “We’ve come a long way and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not there yet. This project is ultimately for the students; we want them to be involved. Being in such a visible space, we hope that this installation will be an educational tool and a source of inspiration for many students. We need the support of the entire RPI community to make this project a reality, and hope that this will be just one in a long string of major sustainability projects at Rensselaer.”

Plans are under way to begin the project in March. The project will take place in two phases, beginning with the roof replacement and culminating with the green roof plant installation in late April. Additional environmentally friendly benefits of a green roof would include: enhanced insulation, reduction in heat loss and energy consumption during winter months, longevity, and a new location for students to conduct research.

“We are very excited to be making such great progress toward our spring installation date,” said Ben Hunt ’10, Rensselaer’s 144th Grand Marshal, who is also pursuing graduate studies in economics at Rensselaer. “The recent donation of $5,000 by the Rensselaer Alumni Association during Reunion & Homecoming Weekend has brought us ever closer to our fundraising goal. As a leading research university and as pioneers in technological innovation, we look forward to making this green roof a reality, and advancing the scope and scale of sustainability at Rensselaer.”

Hunt noted that the green roof project also creates an opportunity to celebrate and pay tribute to Rensselaer’s building history in a new way. In 1904, following a fire that destroyed several buildings, Rensselaer’s ninth president, Palmer Ricketts, headed an expansion resulting in the campus now being referred to as the “Ricketts campus” or “green-roofed campus,” so named for the green-oxidized copper roofs.

“The future launch of the living green roof project symbolizes the 21st century vision of today’s Rensselaer students working toward building a lasting sustainability legacy at Rensselaer,” Hunt said.

For more information and to support the Class of 2010 green roof campaign, go to http://alumni.rpi.edu/s/1225/2col.aspx?sid= 1225&gid=1&pgid=647.

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 17, November 5, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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