Student Research to Advance Sustainability

James Amos, the Economic Development Director of Granite City, and Dr. Jay Turner, Granite City’s scientific partner, are collaborating to help Granite City’s Cool Cities Commission finalize the city’s sustainability plan. Granite City aims to implement specific parts of the sustainability plan with Dr. Turner’s expertise in air quality.

 

Dr. Turner and his team of PhD and undergraduate students plan to engage in two projects that complement the city’s sustainability plan objectives: 1) complete a preliminary greenhouse gas inventory and 2) conduct passive sampling of particulate matter in the city. Undergraduate students enrolled in a for-credit class, “The Sustainability Exchange,” will devote 10-15 hours per week – for a total of 400-500 hours during the semester – developing a greenhouse gas inventory for Granite City and will have the opportunity to visit the city during the semester. Meanwhile, Dr. Turner’s PhD students, with the assistance of undergraduate researchers, will take the lead on discovering the origins of particulate matter emissions across the city.

 

Concerns expressed by the Granite City community about dust and visible particles settling onto city surfaces inspired this particulate matter research. However, a major challenge that Dr. Turner and his team face is their inability to obtain timely information about the operations of local emissions sources such as the steel mill, i.e. whether and for how long they are operating. Mr. Amos promised to ensure that the research team will be provided such information from the city as available.

 

Furthermore, eighty percent of Granite City’s sustainability plan has been completed, with the exception of the air quality component. By the end of July 2016, Granite City and the Cool Cities Commission expect to finalize the complete sustainability plan. Afterwards, the team will begin to think about moving forward with the implementation process. Execution of the sustainability plan will be facilitated by the inputs of Dr. Turner during the editing and review phase; he is in the process of suggesting language that will enable the city to translate elements of the sustainability plan into short-term success, thereby putting the city on the pathway to sustainability.

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