OPINION | New green roof is step in the right direction for Butler

Photo by Reid Bruner

Already hailed as one of the most attractive campuses in the Midwest, Butler University recently added a garden on campus—four stories above ground.

But, this project’s purpose was not to beautify campus.

Instead, the installation of a green roof on campus is another example of the Butler community trying to make the university more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Student volunteers, faculty and staff helped assemble a green roof last Thursday on top of the old pharmacy building.

Guided by Pat Maloney of Eco-Roofs, a green roof professional, and Rich Michal, project engineer on campus, 650 trays, each weighing 40 pounds, were lifted by a crane to the top of the Pharmacy Building.

The project began in the fall when senior chemistry major Sarah Strobl wanted to do a green roof installation project for her honors thesis.

Though Strobl was not able to do this, she joined the Council on Presidential Affairs and began working in the Green Operations Committee.

After several months of working and talking with Butler staff, engineers and manufacturers, the old pharmacy building was targeted for the installation.

I could not be more excited that this project came to fruition, since I am very passionate about preventing environmental degradation and investing in clean energy.

Indiana is mainly powered by coal, which is a big air pollutant when burned, and the water ways in Indianapolis are also polluted due to an inefficient sewer system.

Installing a green roof is a great project to better the environment.

Strobl said that the biggest benefit of the garden is that it cuts down on heating and cooling costs, since the garden acts as insulation.

Therefore, Butler would not need to increase its electricity usage when heating and cooling the building.

Furthermore, when it rains, the water runoff that would have usually been drained into the river gets soaked up by the vegetation on the roof.

Though it is small, the first green roof on campus will hopefully lead to more installations, ultimately helping Butler have less of a footprint on the environment.

“I would like to see every building on campus with a green roof,” Strobl said.

The campus is filled with buildings that have flat roofs, and installing more green roofs on campus and covering larger areas will keep providing benefits for Butler.

Senior chemistry and biology major Eric Shoemaker was a student volunteer with the installation.

He said the roof project was a phenomenal project and that students need to get involved with these types of undertakings because it is our future we are protecting.

“We are the future voice of this generation after we graduate,” Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker went on to say that he also wants Butler to become more of a green university than it currently is.

The students, staff and faculty working to make this university sustainable must continue to receive help.

It was great that SGA funded this project and similar projects should continue to be installed in the short term.

Having a line-item every year in the SGA budget for sustainable projects is, in itself, not sustainable.

Along with the green roof, I hope that President Jim Danko signing the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment on April 16 will truly put Butler on the sustainable path the community wants.


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