FLI Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah Meyer and FLI Intern
Kelly Watters WS’13 construct a rain barrel at a local residence.

Green Infrastructure Project

Store the Storm Rain Barrel Program
According to the EPA, a rain barrel can save most homeowners 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months. It is a simple way to capture and recycle rainwater that would otherwise seep into a house’s basement, be lost to runoff, or be diverted to storm drains, streams, and lakes. To collect water washing off a building roof, the rain barrel is placed underneath the gutter downspout, uses a screen gate to filter out any unwanted debris and insects, and collects up to 55 gallons of water. Each barrel contains a gravity fed spigot, making it easy to fill watering cans or attach a garden hose. The rain barrel’s water can be used for a variety of uses, including watering a garden or washing a car. Not only does a rain barrel help save money on water bills, but it also benefits the environment. Rainwater tends to pick up eroded soil, bacteria, chemicals and trash when flowing over land. By collecting rainwater, the rain barrel prevents these materials from ending up in nearby streams and lakes. It also helps prevent already overwhelmed sewage systems from overflowing and polluting nearby waterways.

FLI’s rain garden is located between the FLI facility and the banks
of Seneca Lake.

FLI Demonstration Rain Garden
A rain garden is designed to soak up rainwater running off of driveways, patios, sidewalks, and roads. It protects water quality by filtering pollution and decreasing erosion. The FLI’s Demonstration Rain Garden was planted by volunteers behind the FLI building in 2009. It is estimated to be 300 square feet to accommodate the drainage area and soil type. Native plants were selected for the garden because of their winter hardiness, ability to grow in clay soil, and resistance to disease and insect pests.

A rain garden:

  • Recharges local groundwater
  • Reduces the potential of home flooding
  • Creates a habitat for birds and butterflies
  • Protects waterways by filtering pollutants
  • Reduces erosion of stream banks and lakeshores
  • Sustains adequate flows in streams during dry spells
  • Reduces mosquito breeding by removing standing water
  • Reduces the need for costly municipal stormwater treatment structures
  • Allows 30% more water to infiltrate than a patch of grass of the same size

FLI Rain Garden Native Plants

The green roof atop William Smith’s Comstock Residence Hall.

  • Anise Hyssop
  • New England Aster
  • Bee Balm
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Northern Sea Oats
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Foamflower
  • Switch Grass
  • Swamp Milkweed
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Solomon Seal
  • Sedum
  • Green Hen and Chicks
  • Spiked Gayfeather

Green Roof
Green roofs are roofs covered with vegetation and growing medium to provide many economic, social, and environmental benefits. Stormwater is absorbed and filtered naturally through the green roof vegetation, reducing the pollution of stormwater run-off. In addition to managing stormwater, green roofs provide insulation, create habitat for wildlife, and reduce the heat island effect. The Colleges installed a green roof over the dorms at Comstock Hall that consists of native vegetation as well as sensors to measure temperature, heat index, dewpoint temperature, and humidity. The Colleges plan to install a larger green roof on the future Performing Arts Center.

Permeable Pavement
Permeable pavement is one of the most effective ways to manage stormwater. As opposed to impermeable surfaces that don’t allow water to penetrate, permeable pavements enable water to filter back into the ground. Not only does the system recharge the groundwater, but it also decreases surface water pollution, hinders flooding, and prevents the formation of stagnant puddles where mosquitoes like to breed. Options for permeable pavements include pervious concrete, porous asphalt, paving stones, or plastic-based pavers. The Finger Lakes Institute installed a porous asphalt driveway in August 2012.