Green initiative takes flight at Gannon

The senior gift from Gannon University’s class of 2012 consisted of two green roofs being installed on Zurn Science Center.

Erin Fuller, a Gannon alumna, became interested in the green roof project earlier in her college career when she took Environmental Issues with Steve Ropski, Ph.D. Ropski’s way of teaching was informative in the methodology of green roofs.

Ropski, a biology professor and director of Gannon’s science program, suggested the green roof idea, while Fuller brought it to life her senior year. Ropski also provided technical advice along the way to make sure that this senior gift was successful.

According to Ropski, green roofs are superior in all aspects. They help with the drainage of water when it rains—since that happens a lot in Erie—as well as create cleaner air and better insulation.

The temperature in a building can reduce from 6 to 8 degrees if its roof is covered with plants.

Not only do the green roofs conserve energy, they also add greenery to Gannon’s campus. All of the plants are drought-resistant, meaning the drought tolerance of the plant is adapted to severe lack of water availability.

Britt Daehnke, director of the Annual Fund for Academic Excellence, was the adviser for the project.

Daehnke said each year seniors choose a project as their outgoing legacy to Gannon and they raise money throughout the year to fund the project.

Last year the class participated in fundraising campaigns such as an annual pizza competition and a T-shirt sale. By the end of the year, the graduating seniors had raised $1,700 to create the green roofs.

The fundraising paid off, said Lauren Chounet, a junior criminal justice major.

“I think it’s a good idea because as a community our school needs to do more to help be environmentally conscious about our surroundings,” Chounet said.

The Greening Award was given out last month at a community meeting for Gannon faculty and staff. The class of 2012 received this award as recognition for its green-roof initiative.

Landis Erwin, a member of the class and former president of SGA, accepted the award on behalf of the senior class.

“The committee worked really hard to make important connections with people in order to get this done and it means a lot to know the class of 2012 and SGA are making a difference,” Erwin said.

Sophomore physician assistant major Julie Marki said the roofs further the university’s attempts to become more environmentally friendly.

“That’s a good investment for Gannon,” Marki said. “It may not help students academically, but it makes the campus look nicer and is going along with the trend of ‘going green.’”

After years of talking about this senior gift, Fuller and the rest of her committee finally accomplished what they set out to do.  Gary Garnic, associate vice president of campus services, announced last week that the green roofs were official.

Garnic said a total of 67 plants of seven different varieties were composed. These plants will be evaluated for suitability over the next winter and summer seasons.

“They did an awesome job developing a project for the university.” Erwin said. “They focused on what students and faculty had in mind for improvement on campus and ran with it.”



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