Special Projects Grant
The Special Projects Grant encourages modest scale research projects that educate our Cooper Union community on issues of sustainability, further the mission of the Institute, and strengthen the working relationship between students and faculty of the Cooper Union. As the necessity for sustainability education continues to grow, CUISD recognizes the importance of multiple perspectives. It is only by including voices from all members of our community that we will be able to build a sustainable world.
Only current Cooper Union students or Cooper Union faculty may apply for this grant.
Budgets for eligible projects should fall within CUISD’s standard award parameters of $500 - $5000.
The grant is intended to serve as an impetus for acquiring additional funding and to assist in maintaining projects between funding cycles. Eligible projects must provide evidence that they are either receiving or actively seeking out additional funding sources.
We are currently interested in sustainable retrofits of existing building stock and initiatives related to education and the environment. However, projects that do not pertain to these areas are also encouraged to apply.
The Institute Director, staff and the applicable Cooper Union Deans and/or individual schools and advisory committees will review projects submitted to the Institute before the Grant is to be rewarded.
Recipients of the CUISD Special Projects Grant are expected to provide 3 progress reports evenly spaced over their duration of their project. The project and reports will be made publicly available via The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design website.
Past Recipient Projects below
Projects & Links
R.A.M.E.S.S.E.S. Reuse of Available Material, Energy, Structures & Supplies for Emergency Shelter
Reuse of Available Material, Energy, Structures and Supplies for Emergency Shelter
The landscape of Mogadishu is dotted with plastic sheets supported by twigs, which shelter groups of weak and starving people from the southern and central regions of Somalia. This is the account given by Dr. Unni Karunakara, the international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). There is a clear and immediate need for projects that improve access to emergency shelters in this region. The engineering community has an obligation to use its research and its resources on such projects, which have the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of destitute refugees.
Professor Cumberbatch has performed several investigations into the design of shelters constructed from freely available materials in very poor countries. Building on this experience, he has taken on the challenge of disseminating the design for a shelter constructed from available materials in the streets of Somalia and in the environs of the Dadaab camp in Northern Kenya.
The shelter consists of a dome-shaped structure that draws upon the model of the traditional Somalian aqal, and the more ubiquitous yurt. The frame is constructed from bamboo strips lashed together with twine in a form close to that of a geodesic dome. With the exception of tarps, the structure is constructed from completely biodegradable materials, sourced from regions as close as possible to the point of end use. In the longer term, Cumberbatch intends to replace the standard tarps with organic materials that utilize biomimetic principles to produce hydrophobic surfaces—ensuring that the entire shelter is biodegradable. Rudimentary investigations suggest that these ideas can be implemented on a large scale.
Waste Heat Roof Garden
Director of the Laboratory for Energy Reclamation and Innovation Prof. Robert Dell of Mechanical Engineering, is installing an experimental green roof plots on the Foundation Building using his heated ground technology. If only one quarter of the buildings using Consolidated Edison’s steam had this system for its waste steam condensate, we could save over a million cubic meters per year of potable water now used for cooling the condensate.
This experimental technology also extends the growing season and increase plant growth by 20%. Prof. Dell has similar experimental gardens in Iceland.
Six Mechanical Engineering masters’ degree students are using aspects of the project; two for Masters thesis, two for their senior projects and two for independent study.
Six two square-meter green roof plots are being installed and monitored on the northeast corner roof area of the Foundation Building at The Cooper Union. Four of the plots will be heated; two will be unheated control plots. All of the plots will contain the same green roof growth medium and the same hoses, drainage layer and roof membrane. The plants will be periodically measured for the rate of plant maturation, duration of flowering cycle, etc.
Below the drainage layer, drain will be installed in each bed, located at the lowest elevation on each garden bed for the collection, storage and measurement of runoff. The growth medium will be measured for temperature, moisture and in addition to any changes in the soil chemistry.
The heated beds should be able to retain more rain water that will further reduce the demands on New York City’s sewers in addition to the potable cooling water that would no longer burden the system.