With a current worldwide emphasis on the environment, it is no surprise that building “green” is a strong enough issue bringing numerous Pennsylvania colleges together for the study of ecological sustainability.
About two years ago, Temple, along with nine other schools and organizations including Philadelphia University, Villanova, Penn State and Carnegie Mellon, formed the Pennsylvania Green Growth Partnership. Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development approved a $1.5 million grant for the partnership.
Dr. Christopher Pastore, co-director of the Engineering and Design Institute at Philadelphia University, said the partnership emerged from a previously existing organization.
“The organization is in its second year. It came out of a consortium in the Philadelphia area that started in 2004,” Pastore said.
Extending the partnership to include organizations around the state, instead of just Philadelphia, allows the PAGGP to look at environmental concerns on a state level, instead of just southeastern Pennsylvania.
Dr. David Kargbo, a civil and environmental engineering professor, and one of two professors that serve on the PAGGP from Temple, explained that being able to examine the state as a whole is essential because it allows Pennsylvania to bring new green building ventures to the state, while correcting some of its problems.
“The state of Pennsylvania is one of the biggest polluters of streams in this country because of mining activities,” Kargbo said.
Kargbo works with a team of colleagues and graduate students to help alleviate issues like stream pollution. Currently, a large portion of their research is centered on the benefits of ash produced after burning garbage.
“We take ash and make green material out of it,” Kargbo said. “One of the things that we can make is what we call zeolytes. The other thing that we did is look at how ash can be used to create bricks that are very, very strong. All of this is coming from something that people think about as just throwing away. Zeolytes, for instance, can take water that is contaminated, and make it uncontaminated.”
The second principal researcher here at Temple is Dr. Jeffry Featherstone, the director of the Center for Sustainable Communities and professor in the community and regional planning department, who is making huge advancements on sustainable design from the Ambler Campus. Though both professors represent Temple, they conduct research on different topics within the green building concept.
“Our piece is to look at sustainable design from a community perspective,” Featherstone said. “We are using geographic information system technology to promote sustainable design.”
This type of groundbreaking research is the reason that Temple is a part of the partnership and is able to receive grant money. Kargbo said this money is split up equally among the members involved, with Temple receiving twice the amount of other members because there are two leading researchers here. However, the hope is that one day the money can be used for more than just research.
“Our plan in the future is to use this money to collaborate with the architecture department both within the university and with the partnership to see if we can develop a prototype of green building within Temple,” Kargbo said.
Ashley Truxon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.