WEF's membership newsletter covers current Federation activities, Member Association news, and items of concern to the water quality field. WEF Highlights is your source for the most up-to-the-minute WEF news and member information.

April 2009, Vol. 46, No. 3

Top Story

WEF Completes Construction of Green Roof and Green Terrace

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) continues to set an example for green practices. On Feb. 1 the construction of a green roof and green terrace at the WEF headquarters was completed.


Landscapers from Chapel Valley Landscape Co. (Woodbine, Md.) put down the base layer for WEF's green roof. Click for larger image.

The project was accomplished through a collaboration among KGS Construction Services Inc. (Haymarket, Va.) for the roofing structure replacement, Construction Systems Engineering Inc. for the engineering and design, Pelican Services (Rockville, Md.) for the installation of a generator, and Chapel Valley Landscape Co. (Woodbine, Md.) for the planting and green roof installation.

WEF’s green roof measures approximately 204 m² (2200 ft²) and its green terrace is approximately 46 m² (500 ft²), according to David Lundberg, commercial sales executive of Chapel Valley Landscape Co. The green terrace has essentially the same design as a green roof but is an area designated for recreational purposes, Lundberg explained. WEF’s terrace is an outdoor area for staff to enjoy the fresh air, take a break, and eat lunch.

Three Years in the Making

 The idea for constructing the second-floor terrace began after analyzing the roofing structure during the spring 2007, according to WEF Director of Facilities Management Nancy Cornwell. The analysis found that it was time to replace the 20-year-old structure. Because of WEF’s commitment to the “establishment of a culture of sustainability,” the Federation decided to create a greenroof structure on the terrace, she said.

“For long-term savings, we combined the second-floor project with the main upper roof,” Cornwell said. “Although the main roof was not due for repair or replacement, we have extended the life of the roof by another 40 years with this process.” Making a roof green can extend its lifetime by protecting it from solar radiation, extreme temperatures, and other weather elements, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Green Roof Project document.

Planning for greening the WEF terrace and roof began in October 2007. During August and September 2008, WEF began meeting with the four companies chosen for the project. The initial meeting involved more than 15 contractors “in the room at the same time,” Cornwell said. “The generator [on the roof] created a challenge because we needed to do a load assessment and build a support structure in the midst of the greening.”

WEF's Green Roof Features


 The landscaping company, Chapel Valley Landscape, has been installing green roofs for 7 years, Lundberg said. For the WEF installation, the company planted four varieties of sedum including spurium, sexangulare, kamtschaticum, and album.

“Sedums are a succulent chosen specifically for green roof designs, due to their ability to withstand long periods without precipitation,” Lundberg said. “They do not require the fertilization and maintenance needs as do other perennials and shrubs.”

   WEF's green terrace is planted with four varieties of sedum and includes tables with chairs for staff enjoyment. Click for larger image.

 Chapel Valley has been contracted to maintain WEF’s green roof for the next 5 years. “This consists of periodic watering during dry periods and installing any additional plant material in areas that may not perform as well as others,” Lundberg said. “With most roofs, being a microclimate, some plants may perform better than others, and the plants used can be adjusted to the specific conditions on the rooftop.”

Any plant installed over a concrete deck has been called a “green roof,” but the modern green roof design uses a low-profile, lightweight soil mixture composed of expanded shale and planted with sedum, Lundberg said.

The primary components of a green roof include the growing medium, a filter membrane that allows excess water to flow out while preventing particles from washing away, a drainage layer that helps excess water flow to the roof drain and possibly retains some additional water, a waterproofing membrane to protect the building from water penetration, and a root barrier to protect the roof from encroaching plant roots, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Green Roofschapter of the Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies document.





Potential Benefits

 Green roofs provide many benefits for the surrounding environment and population. “A mature green roof can retain approximately 50% of rainfall during a typical rain event,” Lundberg explained. “Once the plants have taken up what they can, the additional precipitation runs into the roof drains.” A typical rainfall is approximately 25 mm (1 in.) over a 24-hour period, he added. This harbor for rainfall slows and reduces stormwater runoff and filters pollutants from rainfall, according to the EPA Green Roofs Web site.

In addition, green roofs reduce the temperature of the roof surface, according to the EPA Web site. On warm summer days a green roof can be cooler than the surrounding air while a conventional roof can be up to 50°C (90°F) warmer than the surrounding air, the EPA Web site says. A green roof also can provide insulation for buildings, reducing energy costs and pollution from heating and cooling. In addition, the vegetation removes pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ground-level ozone from the air. These roofs also provide aesthetic value and habitat for wildlife.

While there are not many detailed, full-life-cycle analyses for green roofs, most hypothetical scenarios result in net benefits when incorporating public benefits, according to the EPA, Green Roofs chapter of Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies. Building owners “can directly benefit from reduced energy use, reduced stormwater management fees, and increased roof life,” the EPA document says.

"We take our mission to ‘preserve and enhance the global water environment’ very seriously at WEF,” said Bill Bertera, WEF executive director. “And we realized early on that we could lead change among our members, volunteers, and partner organizations by incorporating environmental sustainability into our own practices.”

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Higlights

WEFecoLarge The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) has been working to reduce its impact on the environment through the WEFeco program, culminating with the launch of the Low Carb(on) Diet initiative in mid-2007. WEF is now in the third phase of its WEFeco program aimed at reducing the organization’s carbon footprint through individual and organizational actions and ultimately helping other organizations in the water sector with similar efforts.  

WEF’s accomplishments include:

  • Reducing electricity consumption by 50% with upgrades to heating and cooling systems and sealing all windows to prevent heat loss and gain.
  • Installing a new energy management system that allows real-time online controls of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and lighting with light and motion sensors. This upgrade is expected to reduce energy consumption of lighting by approximately 40%.
  • Replacing existing lighting with fluorescents and electronic ballasts.
  • Printing books, journals, magazines, newsletters, and other publications on post-consumer, recycled-content paper and producing some content digitally.
  • Recycling all paper, cardboard, glass, and metal.
  • Using Green Seal-certified cleaning products since 2005.
  • Providing bicycle racks and showers for employees.
  • Offering flexible work schedules to reduce commuting times.
  • Providing paper containing a minimum of 30% post-consumer material in all copiers and printers.
  • Producing and distributing conference materials electronically.
  • Using Energy Star-qualified Xerox machines with toner cartridges that are recycled and returned for refill
  • Using low-emission paint and construction materials.
  • Offering incentives for employees to use mass transit.
  • Replacing disposable kitchen items such as paper plates, paper cups, and plastic cutlery with reusable items.
WEAO Creates Strong Student Leaders
Students and young professionals gather to exchange ideas and experiences and learn about student chapter formation and maintenance

 The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Member Association Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) has experienced great success with its student chapter programs. With seven active chapters and four additional ones in formation, WEAO offers opportunities for interschool dialogue and information exchange. To reinforce this exchange and build strong links among schools, 25 students from nine chapters across Ontario met last August at Ryerson University in Toronto for the 2008 WEAO Student Chapter Leadership Forum.


Students from nine chapters across Ontario participated in the 2008 WEAO Student Chapter Leadership Forum. Photo courtesy of WEAO New Professionals Committee. Click for larger image.

WEAO’s student membership program builds community early and identifies bright, young practitioners who will be future leaders in the water environment profession. The forum provides a model for encouraging professional development of these young leaders.

A Growing Program

 The WEAO New Professionals Committee created its student chapter program in 2006. Today, there are established student chapters at five universities and two community colleges, with additional chapters in formation at four additional schools.

The committee held the 2008 WEAO Student Chapter Leadership Forum to help student chapter leaders run better programs for their membership and develop student chapter contacts across the province. The forum concept offered a chance to help established chapters build stronger student-led programs and student membership.

Tools for Student Chapters

The one-day forum offered seminars for the developing chapters on forming a new chapter, accessing resources from WEAO and WEF, and tapping into other resources at their respective schools. There also were workshops describing the experience and successes of established chapters. Seminars on program development, scholarships, and finance were held for both the established and new chapters.


   Students at the 2008 WEAO Student Chapter Leadership Forum participate in one of the seminars offered. Photo courtesy of WEAO New Professionals Committee. Click for larger image.

    The most important goal of the day was getting the students to share ideas with each other and provide feedback regarding the support required to run better programs.

The forum also featured two workshop sessions on programming and several mixer events. In addition, student chapter presentations highlighted the University of Toronto’s recruiting strategies, University of Waterloo’s tour of the Galt Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Sheridan College’s (Brampton, Ontario) planned stormwater pond remediation program.

  The program concluded with a roundtable discussion on the WEAO student chapter program. One takeaway from this. discussion was that new avenues of communication would be needed to continue the momentum of the forum. In response,  the University of Toronto student chapter created a WEAO group on Facebook to help executive members exchange ideas remotely.

Factors for Success
Several key factors contributed to the success of the event, including effective communication, funding student travel expenses, offering a variety of programs for both new and established chapters, and providing numerous breakout sessions with active hands-on learning opportunities. By encouraging established chapters to bring a mix of new and returning executive members, the forum also was used as a vehicle to develop new leaders at the local chapter level. One lesson learned from the event was the value of student chapter presentations. More time for student events is planned for the next forum.

Funding of student chapters’ travel expenses was a key to facilitating attendance by the more distant chapters, from as far as 450 km (280 mi). Additional funding was provided by the WEAO board and the WEAO Members Services Committee. The Ryerson University Department of Chemical Engineering provided lunch for the event. The total budget for the event was approximately $1500 including travel expenses.
Next Steps

 WEAO is compiling the student feedback from the forum. Another student chapter leadership forum is planned for the summer 2009. Still expanding its program, WEAO plans to make presentations to several more prospective chapters throughout the year.

A liaison from the New Professionals Committee, assigned to each student chapter, works with student leadership at a school to recruit a faculty advisor and launch a WEF membership drive. After generating sufficient interest, the committee makes a presentation to the students, highlighting career opportunities in the government, consulting, and equipment manufacturing and supply sectors. In addition, WEAO has an extensive student chapter startup package including FAQ sheets, step-by-step guides, promotional materials, and a template constitution, which can be found at www.weao.org/Students/StudentChapters.html.

Broad Representation, Successful Outcomes

A broad representation of the WEAO student membership attended the forum, including undergraduates and graduates in a variety of engineering and environmental programs from universities and community colleges across 900 km (560 mi) of southern Ontario. Despite the long distances traveled, student feedback was positive.

The WEAO Student Chapter Leadership Forum provides a model for introducing the next generation of water environment practitioners to their profession early — with enthusiastic young leaders working together even before they leave school.

— Bill White, WEF Highlights

Bill White is an associate engineer in the Barrie, Ontario, office of CH2M Hill (Englewood, Colo.).  He is also the student chapter program manager for the WEAO New Professionals Committee. For more information about the 2009 WEAO Student Chapter Leadership Forum, planned for July or August 2009 Sheridan College in Ontario, see  www.weao.org or contact White at william.white@ch2m.com .


Off the Beaten Path …
Underwater Education University provides students with virtual deep-sea experience

 Adding new meaning to the term “distance learning,” an international research team led by University of Delaware (UD; Newark) marine scientist Craig Cary spent 21 days on the deep-sea expedition, “Extreme 2008: A Deep-Sea Adventure.”

The research team included scientists and graduate students from UD, University of Southern California (Los Angeles), J. Craig Venter Institute (Rockville, Md.), University of Colorado (Boulder), University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico City), and University of Waikato (Hamilton, New Zealand).


The Extreme 2008 research team included sceintists and students from various Universities. For more information about each member, "Meet the Scientists" here . Photo courtesy of Dr. Craig Cary, chief scientist and professor, University of Delaware (Newark) and University of Waikato (Hamilton, New Zealand). Click for larger image.

The expedition departed from Manzanillo, Mexico, on Nov. 10, 2008, to explore deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortés, according to the Extreme 2008 Web site. The 22-member research team and 31-member crew spent the expedition on the 83-m (274-ft) vessel Atlantis. Researchers took the submersible vessel, Alvin, down to observe life and collect samples at the hydrothermal vents for analysis. Both vessels used are owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole, Mass.), the Web site says.


Research focused on marine viruses and other protists living around the vents and their roles in the food chain. “Most of the work conducted on the trip involved collecting of samples for genetic analysis,” Cary said. “So we collected unique samples to be analyzed back in our home laboratories.” Eric Wommack, UD associate professor and principal investigator on the expedition, collected viruses for genetic analysis, and David Caron, a Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies professor of biological sciences, collected protozoa to study their role in the food chain, the Web site says.

“For years, the vents have been explored with little to no attention to viruses and protists,” Cary said. “Yet because these organisms eat bacteria, they have the most dramatic effect on the bacterial communities that support the vent system. Our research programs are among the first to focus on these remarkable scavengers.”

 The vessels Atlantic and Alvin, shown above, were used to conduct “Extreme 2008: A Deep-Sea Adventure.” Photo courtesy of Dr. Craig Cary. Click for larger image.
  The program involves students at home through an interactive Web site containing blogs, dive logs, video clips, photos, and interviews posted daily during the trip. Students also were able to write to the scientists, as well as design experiments and participate in a virtual science fair. For the 2008 program, more than 20,000 students from 350 schools in the United States, Aruba, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Great Britain, and New Zealand participated, according to the Web site.

The 2008 program, coordinated by UD’s Office of Communications and Marketing and sponsored by UD and the National Science Foundation, is the sixth in the university’s “Extreme” series. For more information see
www.expeditions.udel.edu/extreme08 .

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights
Web Site Resources — U.S. EPA Video on Reducing Runoff
This section provides online resources that Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) staff and readers have found useful or interesting.



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Botanic Garden have produced the online video, Reduce Runoff: Slow It Down, Spread It Out, Soak It In. The video highlights green techniques such as rain gardens, green roofs, and rain barrels that are being used primarily in urban areas to help manage stormwater runoff and improve the quality of downstream receiving waters.

The featured techniques are innovative stormwater management practices that manage urban stormwater at its source, and are effective at reducing the volume of stormwater runoff and capturing harmful pollutants, according to the EPA. The goal of these techniques is to mimic the natural water flow through an area before the development occurred. Using vegetated areas to capture runoff also improves air quality, mitigates the urban heat island effect, and reduces a community’s overall carbon footprint.

The cistern, shown above, is located at the EPA headquarters Ariel Rios South courtyard and stores stormwater. This water is used to irrigate plants in the courtyard. Photos courtesy of Anne Weinberg, communications coordinator, U.S. EPA. Click above for larger image.  
EPAWebsite View the video at www.epa.gov/nps/lid. For more information about stormwater management, see www.epa.gov/greeninfrastructure.
Do you have a fun or useful Web resource to share? Send your favorite water Web site with a description of what it is and why you think it is useful for water professionals to Highlights Editor Jennifer Fulcher at jfulcher@wef.org