Skip to content

Science Wednesday: Growing Green Minds

2010 July 7

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

As I walked toward the EPA Booth at the Durham Earth Day Festival, a display to my right caught my eye — something that looked like a roof with a garden growing on top of it. An enthusiastic student from Durham’s Hillside New Tech High School came forward and eagerly began to share the details of their project on “green roof technology.”

I learned that these 9th-11th graders, lead by award-winning teacher Matthew Sears, received an InvenTeam grant funded by the Lemelson-MIT Program.

For their project, the students designed and built a residential green roofing system by creating a lattice structure that can support climbing plants. The light-weight material avoids roof damage while adding an aesthetic, natural look to the home’s roof while reducing heat absorption in the hot N.C. summers.

The InvenTeam met after school during the fall semester to work on their design. They spent the spring building and modifying their prototype and practicing their presentation in preparation for their June trip to MIT to present the project during EurekaFest 2010.

Impressed with the technology and the students’ enthusiasm, my colleagues and I decided to invite the students to our EPA campus to share their innovative spirit, as well as to provide them with the opportunity for a practice panel presentation before their trip to MIT.

In early June, the students gave a seven-minute presentation followed by an in-depth question and answer session about their project. EPA scientists like to ask probing questions! The experience offered a great opportunity for the students to prepare for their trip to MIT and offered our EPA scientists and managers insight into these bright young minds.

Our Director was so excited about the technology that he whisked away three of the students to show them the solar panels on EPA’s roof and to talk about the possibility of demonstrating their green roof technology on our building.

We ended the visit with a tour of our “green” campus, wished the group well, and cheered them on as we virtually followed them on their trip from Durham to Cambridge.

About the Author: Kelly Leovic manages EPA’s Environmental and Community Outreach Program in Research Triangle Park and was delighted to host these Durham students at EPA. She has worked for the EPA as an environmental engineer since 1987 and has two children in middle school and one in high school.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

8 Responses leave one →
  1. William H permalink
    July 7, 2010

    This is not really about the science behind environmental protection. Maybe this should have been posted on “Community Outreach Thursday” or “school project monday.” Although if it had actually discussed the science of the school project rather than merely posting links …

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    July 7, 2010

    If we ask to almost the young man about the math of Phytagoras, maybe the Ancients that era him who lived in Greek didn’t know it. Ya, minded evolution. Now, Mrs. Leovic says Growing Green Minds, could tell to us, in the future will not hope again “war minds” that result disasters, or “dogmas minds” that result conflicts of interests. She would, next, the peace people can make the universes become grasses, paddy fields, rain forests and “Space-shuttles”.
    Mrs. Leovic…, Your post is great idea !

  3. ............B.F............. permalink
    July 7, 2010

    Indeed, this report is all about the applied science of controlling carbon levels, the record of an apparently successful application of scientific lessons EPA advances to consumer level interests. That it is of interest in other respects does not work to reduce it’s relevance as a scientific result, but to enhance the reports usefulness to the community at large.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    July 11, 2010

    This is a great report showing what can be done to reduce the carbon footprint and provide for cooler living in summer. Orange County as far as I know only has one green roof building. The new administration building at the south county landfill is a green roof building. They also are taking the gas that results from decomposition at the landfill and supplying it to homes in San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. It also has low flow plumbing and recycled water fohr irrigation. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Angela Tang permalink
    July 13, 2010

    This is a fantastic report, really shows that we actually can do something about carbon. Great that there is some new great green technolgy out there, keep up the good work.

  6. Roofing Contractors Hammond permalink
    October 23, 2010

    Another interesting green roof technology is to beef up the roof structure a little, add a waterproof membrane like HDPE, add a few inches of dirt and grow grass or other ground cover.

  7. Roofing Contractors Hammond permalink
    October 24, 2010

    Excuse me, I meant EPDM as a waterproof membrane.

  8. johnbriedge5487 permalink
    October 24, 2011

    Hi, I am also a blogger myself. I love what you have doing and are doing, I would love to continue to follow your blog so I’ve favorited you and look forward to reading your future posts! Take care!
    John Briedge

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS