SIUE Designated a Living Architecture Regional Center of Excellence

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Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), and its charitable arm, the Green Infrastructure Foundation (GIF) have named Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a Living Architecture Regional Center of Excellence (LARCE). SIUE is one of four higher education institutions in the nation to receive the honorable designation.

"We are pleased with this designation and how it positions SIUE as a national leader in this exciting research area," said SIUE's Bill Retzlaff, PhD. "Sustainable environmental practice underscores SIUE's value of citizenship. True to the University's mission, we are professionals, scholars and leaders who will indeed shape a changing world. Our research efforts in green roof and green wall technologies strongly support that worthy endeavor."

Three SIUE faculty members who were instrumental in receiving the LARCE designation, attended the award presentation held during the CitiesAlive 16th Annual Green Infrastructure Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 26 in Brooklyn. They include:

  • Bill Retzlaff, PhD, distinguished research professor of biological sciences and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, who specializes in evaluation of green roof and green wall technologies, sustainable green infrastructure, and sustainable use of residual waste products

  • Susan Morgan, PhD, professor of civil engineering and associate dean in the SIUE Graduate School, who is an expert in environmental engineering and has specific interest in the use of green infrastructure for storm water management and improved sustainability of communities

  • Serdar Celik, PhD, 2018 Paul Simon Outstanding Teacher-Scholar and associate professor in the School of Engineering's Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, whose research focuses on quantifying thermal benefits of green roof and green wall systems both experimentally and theoretically

“SIUE has a diverse faculty cohort and numerous industry partners conducting cutting-edge green infrastructure research,” Celik said. “SIUE is committed to sustainability, has invested in many sustainable practices, and is the proud home of six LEED for New Construction Certified/Certifiable buildings, including two completed LEED for Existing Building projects.”

A signed agreement between the GRHC, GIF and SIUE will strengthen living architecture and green infrastructure knowledge and engagement through collaborative professional education, research and policy advocacy.

The University’s proximity to the St. Louis Metropolitan area, and Lebanon, Kan., the geographic center of the U.S., as well as its impactful 600-mile radius reach to many major population centers make it a prime location for this national designation.

“We are pleased with the high level of cooperation between industry and academia, and look forward to working with our partners to advance the green roof and wall industry and contribute to the resiliency of our buildings and communities,” said Steven W. Peck, GRP, founder and chair of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

LARCE will advance the work of G.R.E.E.N. (Green Roof Environmental Evaluation Network), the St. Louis metropolitan area research collaboration between SIUE and regional and local industries. G.R.E.E.N. is co-directed by Retzlaff and Morgan.

“Our goal is to evaluate the performance of green roofs and walls, and to make the results available to users for the further development and establishment of green systems in the urban/suburban environment,” Morgan explained. “The Center designation will aid us and our colleagues in these efforts and in providing additional opportunities for students through coursework, as well as sponsored projects.”

SIUE teacher-scholars have produced a significant body of work evaluating living architecture systems in areas such as volume and quality of storm water runoff, plant performance, maintenance issues, biodiversity, thermal characteristics, weight loads, wind uplift and new green roof technologies.

Newly established areas of emphasis include evaluating rooftop vegetable production and food access in urban deserts, native plant performance in green roof systems for storm water runoff, thermal performance of green roof systems, and the use of robotics for maintenance of living architecture systems.

The Regional Center at SIUe has initial plans to develop a center website and is working with the other regional centers to plan for training events and regional research conferences in 2019.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) is a member supported industry association with a mission to develop the green roof and wall industry throughout North America. GRHC provides online and in-person training programs, manages the Green Roof Professional accreditation, publishes the Living Architecture Monitor, organizes events to support market development and advocates for supportive policy.

The Green Infrastructure Foundation is a charity that partners with communities to shape healthy, resilient, and sustainable places using living green infrastructure.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose to shape a changing world. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of more than 13,000.

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