Apply now to join our next cohort of Community Science Fellows and Community Leads!

Designing a Weather-Ready City Hall

Midway, Georgia

Featured image for the project, Designing a Weather-Ready City Hall


Through EPA’s CUPP (College/Underserved Community Partnership Program), Mrs. Jackie Jackson Teel worked with students Markesha McKay and Uriah Virgo to integrate sustainable design features within Midway GA’s municipal complex redesign. The students were connected with the project through Dr. Bryan Knackiewicz of Savannah State University’s Department of Engineering Technology. The collaboration started in mid January 2016 and ended on March 15, 2016. The goal was to make a more environmentally-friendly and resilience-focused building. With the assistance of Jackson Teel, the students’ revisions made the following enhancements possible.


Adaptation measures:

  • Green roof top: Even as temperatures rise, plants will help keep the building cool and reduce the urban heat island effect.
  • Recycled cork wood flooring: Provides thermal insulation, and comes from a renewable source
  • Low emissivity glass: Reduces heat flow through windows.


Mitigation measures:

  • Rain gardens: Helps filter runoff, so that water reaches plants as groundwater instead of through sewer drains.
  • Bio swales: Helps filter stormwater runoff from large impervious surfaces.
  • Grass pavers: Covers parking lot & sidewalk to reduce runoff, filter water, and keep surfaces cool.
  • Low light pollution to keep the natural tranquility of the area intact.
  • Recycled steel material for building construction, and wool bricks for aesthetic appeal of walls.
  • Motion-censor light and water usage, to conserve resources.
  • Educational signage will be placed around the complex to convey the impact each new sustainable feature has on the longevity of the site and how it benefits the environment.


Takeaway Points

The Midway Engineering team stressed the importance of considering wellness factors for humans and nature in their work. They also were pleased to note that they were able to make suitable revisions to satisfy the desired needs of the city of Midway, GA, while staying within budget. Any communities wishing to replicate these measures will have access to AutoCAD and Revit files through the TEX site.

It was exciting for collaborators to see concepts that they studied used in a practical manner. Jackie Jackson Teel expressed her pleasure that the students were not only excited about the project, but referred to and used documents that she had helped to develop (see Coastal Stormwater Supplement to Georgia Stormwater Management manual, 2009).

The full team agreed that in future projects, it would be useful determine a project timeline with key milestones in advance so as to avoid scheduling conflicts and ensure all members of the team are present for key events. A timeline would also ensure that lines of communication remain open as the project draws to a close, ensuring that all parties comfortable with the final product.

Communities that would like to consider environmentally-friendly design in future building construction may want to review the outcomes of this project and how they might be locally replicated. Local municipal governments may worry about the affordability of developing a similar design. However, the municipality of Midway did not need to pay for this collaboration because of the partnership with EPA’s CUPP and TEX. For those communities interested in this collaborative concept towards design engineering, please contact the TEX team at [email protected].


The Challenge

The town of Midway, Georgia, seeks to build a new municipal building to serve multiple community needs. The town’s civic leaders have partnered with students from nearby Savannah State University (SSU) and drafted conceptual site plans, building designs, and 3-D renderings of what the new building will look like. Midway officials have reviewed the work of students Markesha McKay and Uriah Virgo from SSU’s Department of Engineering Technology, who have refined those plans with an eye towards environmentally friendly and resilience-minded design. The connection between the university and Midway, a small community along Georgia’s coast just south of Savannah, was made possible by the College/Underserved Community Partnership Program(CUPP) run by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The CUPP program leverages EPA resources to create connections to academic institutions in order to provide technical assistance to underserved communities across the Southeast US.

Project Team

The Community Lead


Dr. Bryan Knakiewicz has seven years of field experience as an Interior Systems Estimator, Construction Crew Supervisor, Municipal Engineer/Inspector, and small business owner. He has been a faculty member of the Engineering Technology Department at Savannah State University since 2012, where he founded and advises the SSU Engineers Without Borders Student Chapter and advises the American Society of Engineers (ASCE)-SSU Student Chapter. His research interests include advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM), porous asphalt pavement design, the strength of metals, and material testing/finite element analyses.

The Scientist Liaison


Jackie Jackson Teel has worked in Chatham County as the Director of Comprehensive and Natural Resources Planning for 12 years. Her current focus is local and coastal policy focusing around areas such as seal level rise, and natural resource protection. In addition, she is working with the community on long range planning efforts such as food deserts, mobile farmers’ markets, resiliency planning and greenway systems.


A methodology for civil engineering technology senior capstone projects with public, private, and federal agency collaboration to assist underserved communities Download

Midway team with TEX representative at the EPA CUPP Conference in Atlanta, GA 30-31 March [l-r: Bryan Knackiewicz, Uriah Virgo (student), Markesha McKay (student), Natasha Udu-gama (TEX)] — Learn More

Midway, GA team with EPA and USDA representatives. [l-r: Arthur “Butch” Blazer, USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources & Environment; Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator for Environmental Justice, EPA; Dr. Bryan Knackiewicz, Markesha McKay, Uriah Virgo, Natasha Udu-gama, Michael Burns, Program Manager, EPA CUPP] — Learn More