Ohio University

Students plan to raise the green roof

Published: December 10, 2019 Author: Hope Roberts

Thirty-one Ohio University students—both graduate and undergraduate, from seven colleges and 14 different majors—got together Nov. 7 to share information about their past involvement in green roof-related projects and brainstorm ideas for building, researching and promoting the green roof project planned for the Athens campus.

OHIO's green roof project on Schoonover, being installed with funding from the Academic Innovation Accelerator,  is led by Dr. Kim Thompson, Assistant Professor of Instruction in Environmental & Plant Biology.

Some students already had experience with green roof projects, including senior members of a Mechanical Design class who are building green roof models for regional schools. Students from Patton College of Education, Russ College of Engineering and Technology, and the College of Arts & Sciences already have visited local schools and participated in events to demonstrate the ecological benefits of green roofs.

In the meeting, Johnny Murray, John Corcella and Rachel Modzelowski demonstrated how they use small models made from aquaria and milk cartons to teach children about green roofs.

When the students broke into small groups to brainstorm, junior photojournalism student Meghan Rowe shared her interest in creating a documentary about the project. And a graduate student in the School of Media Arts and Studies, Marina Modi, is already in the process of documenting the project. Scripps College student Jack Hall also has been documenting the progression of the project design and installation.


Students at green roof meeting
Students eat Casa Nueva food and discuss their interest in and ideas for the green roof in groups.


Making the Project Environmentally and Publicly Successful

The group made bullet-pointed lists of advocacy, social media promotion, and ecological measures they can take for the project to be environmentally and publicly successful. Some students volunteered to be a part of the outreach committee, which may entail the formation of a green roof project social media presence. Other students provided ideas for how to make the green roof ideal for vegetation and wildlife, including recording the number of birds that visit the green roof and what invasive species may grow on the roof.

Some students suggested ideas for political advocacy, following a model for advocacy used in New York City. Some of these political efforts might include petitioning the city for bus stops fitted with green roofs, education on how the green roof is a community benefit, and forming a group to advocate for policy that supports the construction of green roofs on new campus buildings.

Many of the students are interested in sustainability initiatives on campus and heard about the green roof project through their membership in other student groups including the Sustainability Ambassadors, Renaissance Engineers and Plant Club.


Small group discussions
Students enjoy local food while discussing ideas in their groups.


Funding for this meeting was provided through a grant from PepsiCo Zero Impact Fund.

If you are interested in learning more about the green roof project on campus, contact Thompson at thompsk3@ohio.edu.