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The Boat House is is located on the South Campus of Stony Brook University at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences adjacent to Discovery Hall.


General Description


Frank Roethel with incinerated waste ash blocks.

The Boathouse, built in 1990, is an experimental building made from municipal solid waste (MSW) ash blocks. The building is currently a single-story structure.

1400 tons of municipal solid waste were combusted to produce the ash used in the fabrication of the blocks. This amount of municipal solid waste represents the amount of municipal solid waste generated by the Town of Brookhaven in two days. 14000 blocks were used to construct the Boathouse.

Air quality within the Boathouse was monitored over a 5 year period in cooperation with the NYS Department of Health and the data suggested the municipal solid waste ash boathouse had better air quality than some of the other buildings on campus that were also tested.

Frank Roethel’s research on incineration ash was instrumental in the building’s construction. Frank’s research is documented in the Marine Sciences Research Center’s Working Papers 24, 26 and 27:

The Fixation of incineration ash : physical and leachate properties — Interim Report Roethel (1986-02)

The Fixation of incineration residues: final report August 1986 Roethel, Schaeperkoetter, Gregg & Park. (1986-08).

Building Specifications

  • Heating: gas-fired forced air.
  • Cooling: none.
  • Electric power: 220 and 110 Volt is available throughout the building with GFCI available in selected locations.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

The Boathouse was certified by Ripley’s Believe it or Not! for the contribution of Incinerated Garbage Blocks on November 20, 1991.

On October 2, 1991, the first incineration ash-cement blocks were laid in a ceremony to inaugurate the construction of the Boathouse.

In September 2001, the Boat House was painted the familiar green and blue you see today. A gallery of images of the renovation is available.

On October 2, 2015, Dr. Frank Roethel gave a 25th anniversary talk about The Boathouse in the SoMAS Oceans and Atmospheres Colloquium. The video is available below
Photo Gallery, including construction and unveiling photos

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