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Students showcase storm water design on Earth Day in NYC

A team of Cornell undergraduates has been chosen to showcase its design of a sustainable solution to New York City's storm water runoff problem.

David Afable '12, Christian Paunon '12 and Gregory Falco '10 will present "Curbolution" at the Minds in the Gutter exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York on Earth Day, April 22.

The design "is a retrofit of current curb structure that essentially becomes an elongated planter designed to filter and channel polluted storm water to its appropriate destination," explained Falco, a Hotel School student. "Such a design, along with other techniques, will reduce the strain of 27 billion gallons of water that pummel New York City's sidewalks and roadways each year."

Storm Water Infrastructure Matters (S.W.I.M.), a coalition dedicated to ensuring swimmable waters around New York City through natural, sustainable storm water management practices, recently proposed a challenge to New Yorkers to design a sustainable solution to the city's storm water runoff problem. Overflows limit New Yorkers' access to the waterfront and impair the estuary ecosystem. Almost 30 percent of New York City's surface is made of streets and sidewalks that contribute to the problem.

Capturing storm water on land can make it swimmable, reduce energy costs and create healthy, green neighborhoods.

According to Falco, the Cornell approach is environmentally and fiscally responsible because it utilizes storm water -- currently viewed as waste -- as a resource.

Afable, a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who minors in communication, contributed his technical writing abilities to the team. Falco, who has worked on various LEED projects, applied his knowledge of sustainable development. Paunon, an engineering student who has design experience, contributed his knowledge of green systems and design.

"We believed the competition proved a great opportunity to challenge our abilities to solve a real-life problem that directly affects our community," Falco said. "We hope that our design will become a widespread model for storm water management, as it is simple, cost-effective and very efficient."

The organizers of the competition plan to create a book for print and online distribution that showcases a broad range of opportunity in the public right of way that will include the Cornell team's design.

Media Contact

John Carberry