Many issues surround water, whether it is stormwater, drinking water, or waste water; quantity, quality, flow.  We want the right kind, in the right amount, in the right place, at the right time.

EPA Green Infrastructure Modeling Toolkit


Water bottle filling stations

  • Water bottle filling stations are the new standard around campus. 
  • New and renovated spaces have bottle filling stations that make it easier to refill your own bottle.


Green roofs can be effectively used to reduce stormwater runoff from commercial, industrial, and residential buildings. In contrast to traditional asphalt or metal roofing, green roofs absorb, store, and later evapotranspire initial precipitation, thereby acting as a stormwater management system and reducing overall peak flow discharge to a storm sewer system. Furthermore, conventional roofing can act as a source for numerous toxic pollutants including lead, zinc, pyrene, and chrysene (Vane Metre and Mahler, 2003). (USEPA)

Taylor Hall

Kent State University’s first green roof was installed at Taylor Hall in 2013. The green roof encompasses roughly 6,200 square feet of the roof plaza area on the lower roof of Taylor Hall. The garden roof has a walkway that partially overlooks the May 4, 1970, Site and Memorial. Green roofs have many benefits including: helping maintain cooler temperatures, reduce cooling costs for buildings, protect roof membranes so roofs may last longer, slow the speed of storm water to release stress on drainage systems, and they’re visually appealing. The Taylor Hall green roof requires very little maintenance and there is no chemical weed control. The plants, which come in 12 varieties of sedum, are watered by an irrigation system and do not require mowing. 

Taylor Hall Green Roof

Center for Architecture and Environmental Design

Green roof info coming!

Kent State Led Green Roof Project Wins International Recognition

A Kent State led team of team of graduate architecture students let by the College of Architecture and Environmental Design Associate Professor Dr. Reid Coffman’s green roof project wins international recognition. The Bike Box Living Roof Lab in Cleveland, Ohio received an Award of Excellence from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities for built projects.

Bike Box Living Roof Lab

Kent State Associate Professor in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design receives 2020 Green Roof and Wall Award of Excellence from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities 

Reid Coffman, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University, received the 2020 Green Roof and Wall Award of Excellence from the non-profit organization Green Roofs for Healthy Cities for his outstanding impact in research on environmental architecture.  Coffman and his team are currently working on three on-going projects: A Home for Rare Species in the City; Recycling Dredge for Reuse; Ecomimetics in Living Architecture. 

Reid Coffman 2020 Green Roof and Wall Award of Excellence


Kent State University, through its Stormwater Management Program, promotes stewardship of the lakes, creeks and rivers in and around all University campuses, and works to maintain regulatory compliance with applicable federal, state, and local stormwater regulations. The university performs regular storm water monitoring, and inspects construction sites and university facilities to confirm and enforce compliance. The Outreach program promotes stormwater pollution prevention and natural resource stewardship by providing related education to students, faculty, staff, and visitors. These efforts protect our creeks, lakes, and rivers to maintain and improve our water resource.

Kent State's Stormwater Management Plan


Bioretention areas are landscaping features adapted to provide on-site treatment of stormwater runoff. They are commonly located in parking lot islands or within small pockets of residential land uses. Surface runoff is directed into shallow, landscaped depressions. These depressions are designed to incorporate many of the pollutant removal mechanisms that operate in forested ecosystems. During storms, runoff pools above the mulch and soil in the system. Runoff from larger storms is generally diverted past the facility to the storm drain system. The remaining runoff filters through the mulch and prepared soil mix. The filtered runoff can be collected in a perforated underdrain and returned to the storm drain system.  (USEPA)

Campus Locations

  • C Midway Parking Lot by Terrace Hall
  • S-38 Science Parking Lot
  • C Science Parking Lot near Stewart Hall


Alternatives to traditional paved surfaces allow rain and snowmelt to seep through the surface which helps reduce runoff. Alternative materials include pervious asphalt, pervious concrete, interlocking pavers and plastic grid pavers that allow rain and snowmelt to seep underground. (USEPA) Permeable pavement is designed to filter out debris, chemicals, soil and other pollutants from urbanization. Stormwater runoff is a significant concern, especially in urban environments. By creating a paved surface that is porous and permeable, water runoff and transportation of pollutants are reduced. This improves water quality and controls for water flow rate to prevent flooding. In an effort to reduce stormwater runoff and improve stormwater quality, Kent State University utilizes a series of best management practices. In the R8 Liquid Crystal parking lot there are about 20 parking spaces that have permeable pavement.

R8 Liquid Crystal Parking Lot Permeable Pavement Infiltration Technique

In the R8 Liquid Crystal parking lot there are about 20 parking spaces that have permeable pavement. Falling rain or snowmelt water percolates through the first layer of pavement made of a porous concrete. As water permeates into the ground, urban pollutants are removed through filtration and chemical processes. Water then recharges the groundwater table. This is particularly beneficial in areas where groundwater is the main source of public consumption.
Did you know? In most areas, stormwater flows from storm drainage systems and enters into our creeks, streams, rivers and lakes untreated. In purely natural environments, about 50% of rain water gets absorbed into the ground while 10% runs off and 40% gets evapotranspired. In urban areas where more than 75% of surfaces are impervious, only 15% of water gets absorbed into the ground, 55% runs off and 30% gets evapotranspired.


Constructed wetlands (a.k.a. engineered wetlands) are "are treatment systems that use natural processes involving wetland vegetation, soils, and their associated microbial assemblages to improve water quality" (USEPA). "Natural wetland systems have often been described as the “earth’s kidneys” because they filter pollutants from water that flows through on its way to receiving lakes, streams and oceans. Because these systems can improve water quality, engineers and scientists construct systems that replicate the functions of natural wetlands". (USEPA)

  • Constructed Wetlands are located along the Portage County Hike and Bike Trail east of loop road
  • Summit Street Ponds

Summit Street Ponds

The Summit Street Improvement Project transformed a 1-mile stretch of East Summit Street, from Lincoln Street to just past Loop Road, and significantly reduced traffic congestion, making it safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The project began in spring 2016 and was completed in August 2018. As part of the state and environmental regulations, the city was expected to treat 12 acres of drainage area. With help from Kent State, the project drained 57 acres on and off the campus. The wetland will include 0.8 acres of "micro-pools" and wet areas planted with seed mixes 885 perennials, 198 shrubs and 36 trees. The wet areas and plantings reduce pollutants in stormwater, improving the water quality that flows into Plum Creek, which flows into the Cuyahoga River. 

Biology professor Lauren Kinsman-Costello led a team of student researchers in the study of a wetland area along Summit Street near Campus Center Drive. Kinsman-Costello has worked on the project almost since she came to Kent State in 2014. She said the focus of wetlands used to be primarily their value in diverting water to prevent flooding. Now, however, researchers studying wetlands as a resource in urban areas are also coming to understand the impact they could have on cleaning the water and providing multiple ecosystem services. Kinsman-Costello’s part of the Summit Street project focused on making the area a better ecosystem and more efficient wetland. Her team studied the existing stormwater wetland to establish baseline water quality indicators, like concentrations of chloride from road salt, nitrogen and ammonium soluble reactive phosphate from fertilizers, and sediment. The baseline readings her team recorded help to determine the efficacy of the new wetland.

About KSU Summit Street Ponds Research

About Summit Street Ponds

Kent State Wetland Research


Waste water produced on campus is processed by the City of Kent’s Water Reclamation Division.  The Water Reclamation Division of the Public Service Department is responsible for the treatment of the City’s residential, commercial and industrial wastewater.  The facility can process 5 million gallons per day, via the City’s sanitary sewer collection system.


Everyone lives in a watershed! A watershed is an area of land that separates where water flows: rivers, basins, or seas. Find out what watershed you live in and Watershed Groups near you.

View the Ohio Watershed Network's Watershed Map


Concrete Poetry: Celebrating the Cuyahoga River through poetry and design with works that appear on concrete when wet

In 2019 the Office of Sustainability at Kent State University convened the partners to create the designs in this book for our project “Concrete Poetry: Celebrating the Cuyahoga River through Poetry and Design.” Our idea was inspired by Mass Poetry’s project “Raining Poetry” in Boston, Massachusetts. With Kent State student volunteers, we used biodegradable water-repellent spray to stencil poems on concrete sidewalks and pathways throughout the campus and downtown Kent. On a sunny day, the letters remained invisible. But once it rained and water hit them, the words and designs were suddenly revealed to passersby. The images that appeared on the ground were meant to bring a smile and give us pause, inviting us to reconsider and reconnect to the river and its legacy.

Kent Cuyahoga 50: Concrete Poetry
Wick Poetry Center River Stanzas
Cuyahoga River Facts
The history of the Cuyahoga River in Kent

Kent State Adventure Center

Explore the river! Kent State’s Adventure Center's, Crooked River Adventures, is a canoe and kayak livery in downtown Kent that runs throughout the summer and into Fall semester until the end of September.  

Book a trip!

Cuyahoga River Water Trail 

The Cuyahoga River Trail is Ohio’s 13th Water Trail. The Cuyahoga River is a symbol of efforts to clean up America’s waterways. Famous for catching fire, the Cuyahoga is now sparking excitement. Wildlife and people are returning. In designating the Cuyahoga River Water Trail, community partners are taking advantage of new opportunities and create a lasting legacy.

Explore the Water Trail


The Crooked River Commute, started in 2013 is the first kayaking trek along the Cuyahoga River from Kent State University's main campus to Kent State's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative intended to promote the river as a shared regional asset for education, recreation, and sustainability.


Environmental Science and Design Research Initiative Symposium

The Environmental Science and Design Symposium is a multidisciplinary forum that promotes the exchange of ideas related to the resiliency of natural and built systems. This year’s theme, “Complexity of Environmental Legacies”, reflects the challenges of developing sustainable systems in landscapes transformed by decades of modification and contamination. Speakers from a wide range of disciplines (fashion, geology, geography, architecture, and ecology) will address topics related to urban, sustainability, restoration, and the integration of design with biological systems.

Registration is free and open to the public.  You may support the symposium, attend, submit abstracts for poster presentations, and encourage other students and colleagues to attend!

ESDRI Symposium