Monday, March 21, 2022

Paul Smith’s College students, Franklin County team up on eco-friendly bus shelters

New bus shelters with green, living roofs are coming to public transportation stops throughout the North Country thanks to a collaboration between Paul Smith’s College, the Franklin County Highway Department and The Heart Network.

The senior capstone project is led by students in Paul Smith’s College Environment and Society Professor Deb Naybor’s Social Research and Sustainability classes. Students produced 40 initial designs for the living roofs, and the senior capstone students honed them down to create a set of environmentally responsible concepts for review by the county’s Highway Department.

“Our students are expanding their interaction with local communities through building and design,” Naybor said. “This latest project has students from all areas of study teaming up with The Heart Network and the Franklin County Highway Department to design bus shelters for areas throughout the North Country. By brainstorming and sketching their plans for public good, they’ve learned they can have a positive impact on their community and have their ideas heard. From bakers to foresters, the students are learning how to make the place they live more sustainable and safe.”

A living roof, or green roof, is partially or completely covered with vegetation and planted over a waterproof surface. These roofs promote insect life and act as pollinators, while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gasses.

“This approach is also aesthetically pleasing,” Naybor said, “and when used on a bus shelter, they’re promoting a healthier environment in a place where this normally wouldn’t occur.”

Franklin County will start with four pilot sites using funding from The Heart Network’s Creating Healthy Schools & Communities (CHSC) program. The shelters are being built by St. Mary & Sons Transport of North Bangor.

“We’re excited to see Franklin County implement aspects of the Complete Streets plan we helped design,” said Andrew Cassata, healthy schools coordinator for The Heart Network. “This project brings together public and private partners, and meshes public safety with environmentally sound practices.”

“It’s been a couple of years since the Franklin County Complete Streets Policy has been adopted, and we are excited to move from the planning phase to the implementation phase with projects throughout the county,” said Franklin County Manager Donna Kissane. “We’re very excited to partner with The Heart Network and Paul Smith’s College to bring new bus shelters to our communities. The design is progressive and fits in with our area’s beautiful landscape. We appreciate the opportunity to highlight this project and extend our thanks to The Heart Network and the students at Paul Smith’s College.”

Moss Hills conceptual design for the eco-friendly bus shelter project, a collaboration of Paul Smith’s College students, Franklin County, and The Heart Network. Photo provided by Chris Morris, Communications Consultant for the North Country Healthy Heart Network.

The Heart Network’s CHSC program works to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity in both school and community settings. In 2021, the program added an early childhood component to its focus areas going forward. Through a partnership with the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, CHSC engages with providers in Franklin County to adopt policies and practices that promote nutrition and physical activity for young children. To learn more, contact Andrew Cassata at

The Heart Network collaborates with health systems and public health agencies across the North Country to design, develop, and implement strategies to decrease the incidence of cardiac disease, stroke, and related chronic disease. In addition to CHSC, the network administers the Health Systems for a Tobacco Free North Country program and the North Country Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition. To learn more, contact Ann Morgan at or (518) 891-5855, or visit us online at

At Paul Smith’s College, it’s about the experience. As the only four-year institution of higher education located in the Adirondack Park in upstate New York, Paul Smith’s provides real-world, hands-on learning in fields such as business and hospitality, culinary management, forestry, environmental sciences and natural resources. We are able to draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. Our community of resourceful, enterprising, supportive and adventurous individuals collectively provide experiential education, student support in the classroom and beyond, and meaningful opportunities for our alumni. We pride ourselves on research and advocacy on issues that improve our planet and the lives of the people who inhabit it. Learn more at

Photo at top: One of the conceptual designs (rustic design) of the living roof bus shelters. Photo provided by Chris Morris, Communications Consultant for the North Country Healthy Heart Network.

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