End-of-year sustainability town-gown review slated for Dec. 10

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

The public is invited to see how Penn State students are helping the State College Borough become a more sustainable community. From 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, in Room 304 of the State College Municipal Building, the Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC) in conjunction with the borough will host an end-of-year event to showcase student projects from the fall semester.

“This is a true town-gown partnership which works to elevate and expand the opportunities for faculty, staff and students to be involved in the community and connects residents to the work being done on campus,” said Tom Fountaine, State College Borough manager.

Each semester, SCC partnerships are formed through agreements developed between local government staff and the Sustainability Institute to link community-based sustainability projects with existing courses across the University. The State College Borough has partnered with the SCC for two years. Projects for the fall semester were identified and developed based on the borough’s sustainability priorities.

This event will open with a meet and greet with students, faculty and community members, followed by remarks from Neil Sharkey, Penn State’s vice president for research, and Fountaine. Students will then present findings from their semester-long projects. An informal Q&A session will conclude the event.

“My experience working with the SCC really opened my eyes to the huge potential that exists in the ideas of students and professors alike who want to make a difference,” said Kevin Magee, a student working on a net-zero energy project. “My horizons were greatly broadened to what current technology can provide us in terms of creating a world based on renewable energy.”

The following projects were pursued this semester:

Defining Net-Zero Energy: A Case Study InvestigationCase studies of other communities that have sought net-zero energy initiatives, specifically looking at issues related to local businesses and human resources led by Tom Hogan, human resource management professor of practice.

Alternatives to Alternatives: Exploring New Renewable Energy SourcesExploration and integration of non-traditional alternative energy sources and technologies in order to lower the borough's overall energy footprint led by Kevin Magee, president of the Engineering Leadership Society.

Resolving Storm Water Tensions: Mediation in Established NeighborhoodsMediation of conflicts arising around storm water in particular borough neighborhoods in response to the increased frequency of flash flooding in State College led by Lara Fowler, senior lecture at Penn State Law.

Images and Narratives: Sharing the SCC StoryCapturing the story of the SCC and its affiliated projects and collaborators through photographic narratives led by Steve Rubin, associate professor of art.

Innovation & Education through Design: Storm Water Mitigation in Public ParksCreation of original storm water designs for borough parks that both help to mitigate storm water issues and educate the public led by Heather Gall, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

Class teams working on the storm water mitigation in public parks project were actively engaged with the borough over the course of the semester to ensure that they have all of the information and data needed to provide them with realistic designs for each study site. They were challenged with incorporating low-impact design techniques to address the storm water problems.

“The students recognize that each of their study sites is highly visible, with two of them at local parks and one along a heavily used bike trail, so they placed an emphasis on educations components to engage patrons at each of the sites with the work they are doing,” said Heather Gall, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

“As part of the collaborative, students from multiple Penn State classes have worked with staff from the borough to address significant sustainability issues in our community,” said Denice Wardrop, director of the Sustainability Institute. “We invite you to meet these students in person, hear their ideas and find out more about the Sustainable Communities Collaborative.”

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

For more information about the Sustainable Communities Collaborative and sustainability at Penn State, please visit

Last Updated July 22, 2015