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WKU center receives $297,000 grant extension for Durbin Project

The WKU Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability (CEES) has received a $297,000 grant extension over 18 months from the Kentucky Division of Water to support construction at the WKU-Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Durbin Project.

The 14.3-acre site, located off Durbin Lane and West 12th Avenue directly across Glen Lily Road from the former L.C. Curry Elementary School, is being developed into a statewide demonstration for a mixed-income mixed-use green affordable housing community.

The grant project began in January 2011 and will continue through December 2013. Education is a key component of the grant with training and education offered onsite and elsewhere.

Other WKU departments involved in the project include Planning, Design and Construction; Landscaping; and WKYU-PBS. Students from a variety of academic programs, such as Geography and Geology, Architectural and Manufacturing Sciences, Education and Agriculture, will participate.

On Friday morning (Aug. 3), the Durbin Project will break ground with the installation of a vernal pond that will be used in part for onsite education with school groups and community residents. Vernal ponds are ephemeral or temporary pools of water that provide habitat for distinctive plants, animals and birds. A variety of partners will be involved in Friday’s installation, including wildlife biologist Thomas R. Biebighauser and contractors Scott and Ritter, Inc.

The Durbin Project will demonstrate an integrated green infrastructure and green building model for community development that improves stormwater management. Green infrastructure refers to a low impact development (LID) techniques that maximize use of natural ecosystem services and new technologies to manage stormwater and offer benefits of water collection, filtration and absorption, as well as air purification and heat relief.

Green infrastructure features enhance water quality, abate flooding, lower heat in urban centers, lessen the impacts of climate change and build more resilient communities. In an era of increasingly frequent severe weather events, these infrastructure features will be increasingly important for all communities. The built-in natural spaces also encourage people to spend time outdoors, and improve health and quality of life for residents.

For information about the Durbin Project, contact Nancy Givens at (270) 745-2842 or nancy.givens@wku.edu or Terry Wilson at (270) 745-4671 or terry.wilson@wku.edu.

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