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Accumulation of water runoff during rain storms affects New York City’s combination water system, forcing water treatment plants to release untreated excess water. Rather than allow this grey water to overfill the sewer system, pocket parks and gardens can be used to absorb rainfall. By harnessing nature’s resources through today’s technology we can also create solar and rain catching canopies to beautify, educate, and bring growth and social awareness to local businesses.

In order to design the canopies to collect the maximum amount of rainwater and maximize solar collection, we analyzed expected rainfall and optimal solar angles. The canopies will provide shade for benches near existing flower beds, collect rainwater for irrigation, and collect solar energy. Rainwater that falls on the canopy will slope into PVC pipes and be distributed to clay pots which will efficiently distribute water, while solar panels will provide energy for public electrical outlets. The inclusion of a solar panel created the need for an energy storage component, especially in the absence of sunlight, which quantitatively measures the harnessed energy, and a solar charge controller for energy regulation to limit the rate at which electric current will be added or drawn from the battery and distribution.

Upon completion of the first prototype using mostly wooden and plywood materials, the density of the canopy shade proved to be top heavy thereby making the overall structure singly unstable posing safety concern, this necessitated a proposed material change into aluminum and canvas with lighter weight as a possible standalone and/or adaptive structure to the existing pocket parks. Once refined, these canopies can provide shade, public electrical outlets, and help to mitigate New York City’s storm water runoff problem.


Undergraduate Research funded by CUNY Research Scholars Program (CRSP). Presented at CUNY CRSP Research Symposium at John Jay College on July 24, 2018. Also presented to Habitat for Humanity Berthoud, CO TeamDURA rebuilding and Richmond Public Library Staten Island (July 2018).