America’s Proposed Border Wall: Effective or Deadly?

Donald Trump ran his campaign with the promise of significantly stopping illegal immigration by building a concrete border wall.

The 2016 presidential election, as highlighted by republican candidate Donald Trump, saw the rise in the desire for a U.S.-Mexico border wall among American voters.  The reason for building a wall is to prevent immigrants from illegally entering the United States. One of the largest misconceptions is the negative association between immigrants and crime rates (Jones, 2012).  However, almost all crimes committed in the U.S. were by citizens, not illegal immigrants (Carson & Anderson, 2016).  The main crimes committed in the United States by illegal immigrants include drug trafficking, rape, assault, reckless driving, and driving under the influence (Federation for American Immigration Reform, 2017).  However, Carson and Anderson (2016) state that only about 5% of inmates in the state and federal prisons consist of noncitizens.  This means American citizens account for 95% of the crimes committed in the United States. Of the total, only 1.67% are noncitizen federal inmates in prison for immigration offenses (Carson & Anderson, 2016 p. 33). In former president Barack Obama’s keynote speech, he discussed current crimes rates and illegal immigration, and stated that the illegal immigration and crime rates are lower than they have been in decades (Emery, 2016).  

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Wildlife and the Trump Border Wall


With one graceful leap out of the water, the jaguar latched on to the neck of its victim and surrendered it unconscious using its powerful jaw. The crocodile was in complete and utter alarm due to the incredible hunting abilities of the jaguar (National Geographic, n.d.). Today it is a rare to witness this breathtaking species in the southwestern United States. The jaguar is currently listed in the United States as one of the most imperiled species because of a predator removal program in the 1900’s that treated jaguars as game (Eisenberg, 2014). In 2016 a jaguar was spotted in Arizona, providing hope that a few jaguars may be established in the southwestern U.S. This sighting suggests that the animal crossed the border from Sonora, Mexico to the U.S. This jaguar, now known as El Jefe, may be one of the last remaining jaguars in the U.S, creating an urgent need for conservation of this iconic species in the borderland regions (Bruillard, 2016). El Jefe was photographed north of the border when he likely crossed through a small gap in the border wall to get to the Huachuca Mountains in southeastern Arizona (Schyler, 2017). Continue Reading

Green Roofs Effects on Urban Environments



Green roof, in France

Isabelle Kendall, Hasan Sabri & Bailey Michell

People over 65 make up a significant portion of the United States population, and the number increases every year. By 2040, the amount of people 65 and older in our population will go from 41 million to around 80 million (Kenney, Craighead, & Alexander, 2014, p. 6). This demographic is at great risk for heat related illnesses and death due to the increasing heat indices of our planet (Conti et al., 2005). A heat index is what the combination of temperature and humidity feel like to human beings, and as temperatures rise so do indices (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], 2016). Although the elderly are the most afflicted by heat induced mortality, it can happen to anyone: young or old, rich or poor. Heat waves in Chicago, Tokyo and many other cities have caused fatalities among a variety of individuals. For instance, in the summer of 2003, over 70,000 Europeans passed away during a single heat wave (Knox, 2007). Heat waves are becoming more frequent and more devastating. During a heat wave in Chicago there were nearly 700 more heat related deaths recorded than during a heat wave one year before (Whitman et al., 1997). The increased temperatures that lead to heat related fatalities and other heat related injuries are caused by the expansion of cities across the globe, and more specifically, the materials used to construct these expansions. Materials used include gravel, cement, and asphalt. These impermeable substances that make up urban surfaces like sidewalks, roads, and traditional buildings’ roofs absorb and retain solar radiation during the day then release heat gradually at night increasing surrounding air temperatures into the next day (Knox, 2007). This temperature phenomenon is called the urban heat island (UHI) effect because it causes temperatures in urban areas to be much higher than those in the rural areas around them (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2016). During summer months, the surface of a conventional roof can be as much as 50 º C (90 º F) hotter than ambient air temperatures (Liu & Baskaran, 2003). An article from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) states that in the 1800s, only three percent of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2008, half of the global population lived in cities, and by 2050, almost 70% of the world’s population will be urbanized (Population Reference Bureau, n.d.). Since the population is continuously growing, it is plain to see that any problems facing cities now will affect a staggeringly larger proportion of people over time. Thus, finding solutions to those problems like heat waves, which occur most frequently in cities, will be an integral part of future city living. Continue Reading

The Importance of Being Green: Green Roofs Help Urban Inhabitants Breathe Easier


Green roofs have become a popular amenity in cities as city dwellers seek environmentally friendly places to work, live and breathe.


Rachel Eckenreiter, Animal Science

Justin Esiason, Environmental Science

Patrick Meehan, Building Construction Technology


     As the sun rises in Beijing, the workforce can be seen flowing into the arteries of the city to start the day. The streets steadily fill with people, some whizzing by on bicycles, others on foot as the sun fights through toxic haze and dust. A father and daughter navigate through the dense crowd, completely unfamiliar with the language spoken around them and written on street signs, the young girl quickly glances around her, confused and overwhelmed. Faces of many sizes, ages and shapes glide by, most clad in white medical masks. Her eye catches something they’ve seen before: the welcoming sign of their hotel.  The bright and quiet lobby is cool and clean as they head toward the elevator. Once in the room, she wastes no time and heads straight for the bathroom sink, with the sensation that her face is covered in grime as if she had worked in a dry dirt field all day. After washing her face, she glances down to find that the pristine white hand towel had turned mostly dark grey and brown. Although their stay in China was only three weeks long, it was enough time to recognize that the city of Beijing had a major air pollution problem. (Rachel Eckenreiter, Personal Communication, April 6, 2017). Continue Reading

Trump’s border wall will destroy possibility of the return of jaguars to Southwest

Emily Hartmann – Natural Resource Conservation

Jonathon Curreri – Building and Construction Technology

Matthew  Cornacchia – Natural Resource Conservation

Benjamin Morse – Building and Construction Technology

In 2011 scientists established a camera monitoring system in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona intending to capture imagery of mountain lions. After checking the tapes, the wildlife biologists discovered something they never could have imagined: a lone wandering jaguar. Excited, they rushed to set up more cameras throughout the area to observe this majestic and elusive animal. This spotted bachelor, named “El Jefe”, continually maintained a home in the mountains of Arizona for five years. His popularity in the media made him a local celebrity. After all, the mysterious Panthera onca species once roamed the deserts and mountains of the southwestern United States in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and southern California but is now a rare sight. Unfortunately, the pressures on these populations due to human development and hunting caused the species to go extinct in the United States in the 20th century, with the remaining populations congregating in northern Mexico (Northern Jaguar Project, 2010). The range of the jaguar decreased by 40% due to anthropogenic effects. (Hunter, 2017) In recent years, conservationists observed jaguars wandering through the southwestern United States but none maintained a permanent residence. El Jefe gave conservationists hope that the species could return to the area and fully restore this precious ecosystem (Milberg, 2017). Continue Reading

Trump’s Proposed Border Wall Is Bad News For Wildlife

Mule deer stopped by pedestrian fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border


Emily Brown (Environmental Science and Geography)

Gabriella Saloio (Environmental Science)

Dylan Giles (Building and Construction Technology)

Robert Golden (Urban Forestry)

On November 16, 2016, a motion-detection camera from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management captured a rare image in the Dos Cabezas Mountains of Arizona. Displayed prominently in the foreground of the photograph was the unmistakable yellow and brown speckled coat of a jaguar. This jaguar sighting was the second in the last four months and the seventh since 1996, leading scientists to believe the population might re-establish in the U.S. after more than a century of decline (Davis, 2017, para. 10). Ironically, however, the photograph was taken one week after the election of President Donald Trump, whose promise of constructing a border wall between the United States and Mexico would prevent this endangered animal from entering the country (Davis, 2017, para. 18). Though the jaguar’s persistence in the U.S. is of concern to scientists, this is only one of many species threatened by the proposal to build an impermeable border wall (Lasky, Jetz, & Keitt, 2011, p. 673). Continue Reading

Building Green Cities: Mitigating the Urban Heat Island Effect with Green Roofs

Authors: Jill Banach (Environmental Science), Michael Mason (Building Construction Technology), Mitchell Good (Urban Forestry, Natural Resource Conservation), Sydney McGrath (Horticulture)

A short film, Brooklyn Farmer documents a group of urban farmers growing food on the rooftops of New York City. The head farmer, Ben Flanner, kneels in the dirt cutting fresh salad greens to send to restaurants later that day. As he glances up, the earthy green plants and brown soil contrasts starkly with the concrete skyscrapers on the horizon. He acknowledges that “the city itself has made it possible to do this by being so overbuilt and having all these impermeable surfaces that need sponges on them” (Cherrie & Tyburski, 2013, 6:24). Ben and his team set out to build the world’s largest rooftop farm. With success, two rooftops in the city are now abundant with tomatoes, herbs, root vegetables, and even beehives. Qwen Schantz, another essential person of the operation, describes the potential for future innovation: “When I look out at New York City rooftops and I see thousands of acres of empty space, I truly am moved to cover them with vegetation. And I think that this is something that has to happen. And I think it’s something that will happen” (Cherrie & Tyburski, 2013, 24:47). As the sun sets behind the New York skyline, Ben knows that this farm is making a difference in people’s lives. He is bringing the people of Brooklyn closer to their food, increasing vegetation in a way that is “flashy and weird and interesting” (Cherrie & Tyburski, 2013, 6:57), and contributing to the greater movement of green roofs to reduce the impacts of urbanization. Continue Reading

Making Green Buildings Affordable

Did you know that green buildings are only about 2-3% more expensive than conventional buildings (Dailey, 2013)? Read more about how green buildings are actually more affordable than you think.

Did you know that green buildings are only about 2-3% more expensive than conventional buildings (Dailey, 2013)? Read more about how green buildings are actually more affordable than you think.



Aiden McGrath – Pre-Veterinary Science

Brandon Hennessey – Building Construction Technologies

Sarice Scher – Sustainable Food and Farming



A few weeks ago, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk revealed their joint plan with Solar City, a company dedicated to bring solar energy to the public. Their goal was to create solar panel roof tiles that would work efficiently, but would also look and perform better than conventional tiled roofs (Richardson, 2016.). Some might ask why a CEO that makes unaffordable sports cars would be interested in solar panel roof tiles; the answer is actually displayed in plain sight within their mission statement. “…Each new generation (of electric cars) would be increasingly affordable, helping the company work towards its mission: to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport.” (Tesla Motors, 2016). Tesla strives to bring our world into the future of renewable and reusable energy. It was only a matter of time before Musk would begin innovating more green technology for powering our houses in an environmentally conscious way. This is Musk’s method of pushing us out of our comfort zones and into a new normal, a normal where having a solar paneled roof is as easy as buying an electric car. Continue Reading

Optimizing Conventional Buildings

According to Freed (2006) 40% of energy and materials goes into buildings worldwide (“What do you mean by…” section). Here are some of the things we can do to lower that percent. Freed. E. C. (2006, August). As the green architect: Why should I care about green building anyway? Retrieved from

According to Freed (2006) 40% of energy and materials goes into buildings worldwide (“What do you mean by…” section). Here are some of the things we can do to lower that percent.
Freed. E. C. (2006, August). As the green architect: Why should I care about green building anyway? Retrieved from


Menli McCreight : Environmental Science

Alec Boucher : Building Construction Technology

Adam Banks : Sustainable Horticulture


The amount of energy used for maintaining buildings is immense. In the United States alone, buildings are responsible for three-fourths of electricity consumption, over one-third of total energy use, and one-third of carbon dioxide emissions (Durmus-Pedni & Ashuri, 2010). Overall, 40% of energy and materials goes into buildings worldwide (Freed, 2006, “What do you mean by…” section). Continue Reading

Are Green Buildings the Future in the U.S?

Vinnie DeRose – BCT

Katelyn Pike – NRC

Garrett Stanowicz – ENVISCI

Sustainable building is a modern way of construction that refers to both a building structure and the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle. In other words, green building design involves finding the balance between home building and the sustainable environment. Continue Reading