Staff Profile: Sean Gallagher

Dec. 7, 2019

Over the past decade, stormwater management has been an area of focus in Princeton’s campus planning and sustainability efforts, leading to more than 20 projects that have reduced runoff while helping to restore the quality of the local watershed. Sean Gallagher has played an essential role in overseeing these projects and is currently planning new projects that will expand the area under enhanced management by incorporating green infrastructure into new construction and landscape projects through scalable action (e.g., subsurface infiltration, bioretention, stormwater harvesting, green roofs, porous pavement, natural storm water treatment landscapes, green infrastructure corridors, etc.). He also oversees the ongoing monitoring program for campus stormwater outflow quality and quantity.

What is your role and how long have you been at the University?

I started in May of 2004 as a civil engineer and am the Director of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  I am responsible for the management of the campus underground utility infrastructure which consists of over 85 miles of underground pipes.

How do you define sustainability?

I define sustainability as the management of change in our daily lives to minimize or eliminate adverse impacts to our surroundings.

In what ways have you integrated sustainability practices into your work environment?

We have implemented sustainable practices into our utility construction projects as follows:

  • We have purchased an Asphalt Zipper, which is a trench milling machine that enables us to pulverize the asphalt into a re-usable road subbase material.  This re-use eliminates the purchase of crushed rock and it also eliminates the need for offsite disposal.
  • We began recycling our excavated soil about 10 years ago.  This recycling consists of screening the soil and repurposing it as either backfill material or topsoil.
    • Backfill Material - Our backfill material is put through a screener and generates a soil that is suitable for compaction.  This recycling eliminates the need to import structural material for back fill and it also eliminates the need for offsite disposal of the material.
    • Topsoil – Our excavated material is screened and blended with a variety of amendments to produce topsoil that has been utilized by our grounds crews for maintenance of our landscape.  It has also been used on our capital projects as part of the new landscapes created on campus.  This recycling eliminates the need to import for back fill and it also eliminates the need for offsite disposal of the material.  It also provides a native soil profile for our plant material as the soil is generated using products from the campus.

In what ways have you integrated sustainability practices at home?

  • My wife and I installed 10Kw solar panels on our home.
  • I purchased an electric hybrid vehicle. My fuel consumption over the first 30,000 miles is over 134 mpg.
  • My wife and I always have re-usable shopping bags, coffee cup or water bottle with us at all times. 
  • I have taught my kids that if they don’t have a re-usable cup with them they should not buy a drink that comes in a plastic cup or bottle.