Good planets are hard to find—we’d better give our Earth some love!
Our Regional Green Infrastructure Showcase will help us do just that. Part exhibit, part green infrastructure initiative, this project will be a free, outdoor experience for visitors and passersby and an example of green infrastructure for our area. If you’ve seen the construction on our campus at the corner of East Ave and Goodman St in the past few months, you’ve already had a sneak peek.
What are we working on?
Green infrastructure is a network of sustainability efforts that help the environment and improve the quality of life in the community, especially in urban areas like Rochester.
To this goal, the exhibit will include bioretention areas that catch and filter stormwater runoff from the roads and parking lots to water plants and a learning pavilion for guests to learn about the stormwater process, green building techniques and participate in green infrastructure workshops.
Guests can try their hand at the treadle pump, or a human-powered suction pump, to learn about the irrigation process. Areas with permeable paving stones and concrete will reduce the runoff and winter salting requirements, and several new trees will be planted around our campus.
The infrastructure outside and exhibit components inside the museum show the important connections among science, technology, engineering and math that can help preserve our environment for future generations. They also highlight the impacts of stormwater management in our region.
What is a green roof?
The highlight of our learning pavilion is the green roof covered in plants and a water harvest collection area to capture roof runoff.
When it rains, dirty water will run off a normal roof and into storm drains, and because roofs are dark, they attract heat. Green roofs, however, collect up to 70 to 90 percent of the water before it can go into the drain. They also cool the areas below them and clean the air with their vegetation. Since they don’t take up any extra space, this solution is ideal for cities.
Green roofs last much longer than normal roofs, and they reduce the need for energy-sucking air conditioning, meaning in the long run they are less expensive. Cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, Toronto and Philadelphia have already gotten in on the green-roof action.
Why stormwater runoff is a problem
The Great Lakes are the world's largest freshwater system. Did you know that?
You know what they say: “ With great power, comes great responsibility.” It’s our job to keep this massive freshwater resource beautiful and clean—and stormwater runoff is one of the biggest challenges we face in that mission.
When it rains, the water goes into a stormwater drain, taking any pollution along with it. Is there some spilled gasoline in the road? It goes into the drain. Litter? That goes with it too. And from the drain, the rainwater and any chemicals and garbage it collects end up in the lake.
By filtering stormwater before it goes into the drain and making sure it doesn’t collect pollutants, we can help make sure Lake Ontario stays healthy and safe for drinking and swimming!
A little goes a long way
Rochester may be only one city on this big earth, but every little bit helps the environment! What can you do to help save the planet?
An easy way to reduce stormwater runoff at home is to buy a rain barrel, which you can find at stores like Wal-Mart, Target or Home Depot. Or, make your own with tips from RMSC’s Tim Cawley! Put a barrel under a rain gutter to collect rainfall so polluted water doesn’t make it to the drain. Then, use this water to feed your garden; rainwater is actually better for plants because it is very oxygenated and doesn’t contain some of the chemicals that tap water does.
You don’t necessarily have to create a green roof to help the environment. Having lots of green plants in your yard is good for the air. Put them on a balcony or windowsill if you don’t want to take up space.
Get inspired to go green by checking out the green infrastructure being developed at the RMSC! Exploration of the outdoor showcase is free to the public and we welcome your green infrastructure questions.