The Department of Biosystems Engineering has renovated the courtyard adjacent to the department’s main classroom building to serve as a multi-purpose research and recreational area for students and faculty. The Corley Courtyard retrofit, supported in part by a grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, provides two landscaped areas that are designed for ecological stormwater remediation. Planted bioremediation cells (BRCs) are integrated into new inlaid brick and concrete surfaces to demonstrate an innovative urban practice to protect the environment by improving stormwater quality. The new courtyard offers current and future students the opportunity to monitor and evaluate design options for ecological stormwater control within the local Parkerson Mill Creek watershed.
Students and graduates of the department played vital roles from conception to design of the new Corley Courtyard. The BRCs present a unique opportunity for hands-on learning, as well as demonstration and research in the area of green infrastructure. Proposed student and faculty research activities include determination of contaminant reductions through BRCs, design of self-contained recirculation systems for sustainable irrigation of BRC plantings, and capture and reuse of rainwater using cistern storage coupled with renewable solar or wind energy.