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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU-HU Neighborhood Adaptation Research Efforts Recognized

The senior design project uniting Old Dominion University engineering students with Hampton University architecture students to make flood mitigation recommendations for a historic neighborhood has received a Norfolk Environmental Action Award.

The awards, presented by the Norfolk Environmental Commission, go to individuals, organizations, businesses, and government entities that excelled in making measurable, positive impacts on Norfolk's environment.

"We were delighted to work once again with our friends at Hampton University," said Mujde Erten-Unal, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Sustainable Development Institute. "Not only are there terrific learning opportunities across disciplines, we are more aware than ever of the combined power of engineering and architecture to solve complex problems."

Old Dominion engineering students collaborated with Hampton architecture students to enter the 2011 Solar Decathlon, advancing to the finals of the energy efficiency competition with teams from around the world.

This latest partnership involved adaptation for Chesterfield Heights, a Norfolk neighborhood threatened by rising sea levels. Students investigated the 175-home neighborhood, which was surveyed more than 100 years ago, and suggested ways that the historic homes can be protected from rising water beyond options such as lifting each individual home, building an unsightly sea wall or abandoning the low-lying neighborhood altogether.

In the project, organized by local nonprofit Wetlands Watch, the students from HU and ODU were tasked to find a solution that would maintain and protect the historic neighborhood from flooding.

The project was funded through the Virginia Sea Grant program. Students presented their low-cost solutions in May to the Norfolk Watershed Taskforce.

To design the adaptations, the group had to address the neighborhood's coastline, streets, storm water drainage system, codes and regulations and even the unique attributes of individual homes.

The students suggested measures the city and homeowners can employ to protect their properties, such as increasing the capacity of storm sewers and burying storm water-storing cisterns under streets raised slightly with the installation of semi-permeable concrete.

The City of Norfolk lauded the efforts of the students in the launch of its resilience strategy earlier this month. See mention of the Chesterfield Heights project on page 11 of the Resilient City Strategy.

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