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July 28, 2005


NEW YORK, July 26 2005 – Gary Chan, a third-year civil engineering major at The City College of New York (CCNY), was one of 15 undergraduates nationwide awarded a Greater Research Opportunity grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The fellowship provides up to $17,000 in academic support annually plus up to $7,500 for a three-month summer internship at an EPA facility.

The award to Mr. Chan, who resides in Brooklyn and is enrolled in CCNY’s Honors Program, will support continuation of a research project he began one year ago to study the potential benefits of green roofs in the urban environment as part of an innovative CCNY program in environmental entrepreneurship.

Mr. Chan’s research entails creating a green roof, or vegetated rooftop, on 200 square feet of Steinman Hall, the 45 year-old eight-story building housing CCNY’s School of Engineering. The green roof will be monitored for a year before the data is evaluated.

“Green roofs are emerging as a very effective means of addressing many of the environmental concerns that exist in today’s urban centers,” Mr. Chan explained. “My aim is to demonstrate how they can play a dramatic role in confronting the problems of storm water runoff. In cities such as New York, where the sewage and storm water systems are combined, combined sewage overflows (CSOs) are a real threat to the surrounding marine and coastal environment any time there’s heavy rain.”

In addition, Mr. Chan’s research will attempt to determine the cost/benefit analysis for green roofs versus more traditional CSO abatement measures. The results of his study could yield further proof that green roofs can be one of the most environmentally friendly and economical solutions to CSOs in large cities.

Born in Manhattan to immigrant parents from Hong Kong, Mr. Chan began the project last year in collaboration with Civil Engineering Professor Megan B. Wiley, one of his mentors and a co-founder of the Environmental Engineering Entrepreneurship Partnership (EEP) program.

A joint initiative of the College’s School of Engineering and Economics Department, the EEP’s mission is to support the development of environmentally conscious engineers and entrepreneurs of the future.

Professor Wiley said she was thrilled by the interest Mr. Chan’s study had garnered. “We’ve been contacted by engineering consultants, the (New York City) Department of Environmental Protection and graduate students interested in our results,” she said.

“In theory, green roofs make sense for New York, but data from a carefully designed experiment are key to guiding the level of investment and methods of implementation,” she cautioned.

The green roof project is Mr. Chan’s second with EEP.  He previously studied the methods of environmental dredging of PCBs on the Hudson River.  In addition, he received the 2005 CCNY CE Alumni Award.

About EPA Undergraduate GRO Fellowships

The EPA’s Greater Research Opportunities (formerly Minority Academic Institutions) program provides high-quality educational and professional training opportunities to participants.  In 1982, the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) created the EPA Minority Academic Institutions’ Undergraduate Student Fellowships program. The goal of the program is to assist Minority Academic Institutions in providing high-quality education and professional training opportunities to students interested in pursing environmental careers.

About The City College of New York

For 158 years, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality affordable education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 12,200 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the School of Education, the School of Architecture, the School of Engineering, and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.