The green roof trend is branching off from large metropolitan buildings offering a green oasis to include college campuses. For example, Hamline University – located in St. Paul, Minnesota – has implemented an 1,800 square foot green roof on top of its new construction student center.
According to an article in the Minnesota Star Tribune, the school’s strategy was to ensure that the building’s physical appearance was not compromised by integrating a renewable energy solution as part of the building design. As a result, the eye-catching Anderson Student Center is a beautiful space that also has the integrated capability of improving the efficiency of building operations. Inherent to a rooftop garden, the school has also created a lofty green space that contrasts with the hard surface density of the campus. Apparently, throughout the design process, Hamline University’s project team’s consensus was that a green roof, as a unified part of the project, perfectly combined form and function.
Ken Dehkes, the director of facilities operations and horticultural services at the college, told the news source that maintaining the building’s looks was an important factor when installing the green roof.
“It’s functional, but for us, there’s a distinct aesthetic value,” Dehkes said.
Green roof construction benefits the economy
In addition to the beautiful aesthetic and energy efficiency benefits of green roof projects, the positive marks left on the economy are just as satisfying. During the recent economic crisis, the lawn and garden industry suffered immensely. According to the Star Tribune, retail sales of lawn and garden products fell 16 percent nationally from 2008 to 2009. But, due to the increasing number of businesses and organizations adopting green roof solutions, the lawn and garden market is stabilizing.
Doug Danielsen, a landscape professional who worked on the school’s green roof installation, told the news source that the project was a major lift for his company.
“It’s helped us in the sense that in the last couple of years, it’s been a tough market for us,” Danielsen said. “But it’s [green roofing] really starting to explode, and all over the Midwest.”
Green roof projects spread out
Many states and local communities realize that stormwater management systems reduce the load on public services especially during extreme weather. Stormwater management incentives promote green roof projects which use natural rainfall and reduce the quantity of water flooding into sewers and water treatment centers. As a result, the Midwest is becoming a booming area for green roof installations, and Minnesota is stepping up alongside Chicago as a regional leader. Why? The state offers incentives for buildings in Minneapolis that implement green roofs!
According to Plant Connection Inc., any building in Minneapolis that improves its stormwater management can receive a 50 percent credit against mandated stormwater usage fees. For building managers, property owners and large college and medical campuses, receiving this credit is an interesting and lucrative way to cut energy costs and improve viability. For new construction or buildings that need new roofs, it’s no wonder more organizations are implementing to this solution.
Online publication Finance & Commerce reports that green roofs are sprouting up all over the Minneapolis area due to a 100 percent city credit on storm water fees for green roofed facilities.
“The University of Minnesota is installing a 68,300-square-foot green roof atop its Cancer and Cardiology Research Building, under construction at 2231 Sixth St. SE in Minneapolis. One of many on the university’s campuses, it was added mainly to capture storm water and save energy, according to Pete Nickel, the university’s project manager for the 285,635-square-foot building.
When completed next summer, the building will accommodate 800 people, who will have access to an outdoor gathering space next to the green roof. The green roof will cost about $1.3 million of the total $145 million project, according to Barry Morgan, Mortenson Construction’s senior project manager and manager of the research center construction.”
Not just limited to new construction, buildings that can bear the weight of a roof garden are also candidates.
“Target Center in Minneapolis is a good example of an older building that needed a new roof and went green, according to Karen Jensen, president of the Minnesota Green Roof Council and an environmental engineer with the Metropolitan Council.
The 2.5-acre roof was installed in 2009 and captures 1 million gallons of storm water annually, according to the Target Center website. At the time of design, it was the largest in Minnesota and the fifth-largest in the United States. The council estimates that Minnesota is home to more than 150 green roofs, with more added regularly.”
Like most renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, green roofing’s current momentum is spurred by local and state incentives that connect the benefit of public stormwater management to discrete construction efforts. Going forward, it will be interesting to see which other states adopt green roof incentive programs. (See the http://www.dsireusa.org/ database for a complete listing of programs available across the US).
Have you spotted a green roof in your community? What do you think? Is the building that you work in a candidate for a rooftop oasis?
The Pfister Energy tagline is “Are you leading the way.” For us, this isn’t just a sales gimmick, it’s how we truly view renewable energy. While installing solar arrays across the US is a portion of our business, we look at every potential project as an opportunity to save and save big. “Leading the way” is about thinking differently and being a leader to your community, shareholders, employees and yourself. Walmart, a recognized big box store with a mixed consumer reputation, is also a forward-thinking environmental leader – leading the way. Many of their existing stores utilize daylighting to reduce power consumption. And, now Walmart is installing a green roof, as a part of the building design and new construction of their Portland, Oregon store.
According to an article in the online publication EarthTechling, the new, 90,000-square-foot location will feature a green roof of 40,600 square feet. This is going to be the retail giant’s second green roof in the country and will represent the largest private green roof in the city of Portland. The city is known for its renewable energy solutions too, so Walmart’s leadership in this initiative is a big deal!
At Pfister Energy, we often talk about stacking technologies which, quite simply, means that the building utilizes multiple renewable and energy efficient solutions to maximize their production and savings. Walmart’s Portland store is doing just that:
“Other green features planned for this new store include lighting systems with daylight monitoring and skylights: eco-friendly flooring made with recycled fly ash, an HVAC system that recycles heat produced by the building’s freezer units, LED lighting in parking areas, recycled construction materials [such as steel and plastics] and a white membrane covering the remaining, un-vegetated portion of its roof,” the article says.
Green Roof Systems
Green roofing systems are relatively easy to install. They are a great way to improve the aesthetic nature of a building, add green space, prolong the life of a roof, reduce the heat fluctuation within a building, manage storm water effectively, and include these financial benefits:
- The Clean Energy Stimulus and Investment Assurance Act and the Energy Policy Act have allowed green roof builders to receive cash back on their investments.
- The Energy Policy Act gives federal tax credits of up to $1.80 per square feet of green building construction, as long as it meets ASHRAE standards.
- Local building codes encouraging green roofing. As an example, in Portland, green roofs are encouraged by the building code by offering a floor area ratio (FAR) bonus. This allows developers to build an extra three square feet without additional permits per green foot (i.e., a building with a 1,000 ft. green roof will be able to add an extra 3,000 sq. ft.).
- Stormwater management plans may offer reimbursement based on green roof square footage.
And because one of the primary advantages of green roofs is stormwater management, building owners may be eligible to receive a financial incentive if they are able to accomplish this. A grant reimbursement of up to $5 per square feet is offered for green roofs reducing stormwater.
Are you leading the way?
We expect that Walmart’s continuous and innovative direction will set an example for their local community, but also inspire other corporations to think about the benefits of being green. If you are a business owner (big or small), the best time to consider and evaluate renewable energy and sustainability options is before new construction, expansion, remodeling, or repairs. Maybe your best ROI is green roofing. Or, it’s solar thermal on a south-facing wall. Or, a new lighting system that uses less energy and needs bulbs changed every three years instead of two. In fact, it could be a combination of all these ideas! For Walmart, these smart, eco ideas are an approach that impresses the local community, saves money on a predicted lifetime of utility bills, and is an opportunity to provide a discerable benefit to their employees and shoppers.
Are you thinking like Walmart? Are you leading the way?
This blog is part of a series describing various renewable and energy efficient technologies. If you missed the overview, click here and you’ll be able to catch up. Articles include solar electric power (photovoltaics), wind power, daylighting, solar thermal, and rainwater harvesting.
A nice green roof is like throwing on a fine Yankees fitted cap during the pennant race…it looks sharp and keeps the sun and rain away! Even if you’re not a Yankees fan, green roofing is a combined energy and water efficiency technology that includes a twist of creativity and glamour.
The primary benefit of a green roof is the effective barrier between the building and the constant, direct radiant heat given off by the sun. The plantings and barriers keep the top floor of a building significantly cooler than a traditional roofing system. And, a green roof can be coupled with a rainwater harvesting system so that it is self-irrigating. Sometimes called roof gardens, rooftop gardens, living roofs, or vegetated roofs, the objectives are usually the same: control water outside the building and the temperature inside the building.
Benefits of a Green Roof
If you live or work in an urban environment that becomes a sweltering heat island, not only does the green roof lower utility bills but it provides a retreat in the middle of the concrete jungle.
- Inviting retreat upstairs? Promote employee interaction by providing a restful spot to gather for lunches or informal meetings.
- Extra glamorous green roof? Rent it out for special occasions and meetings.
- Looking for a marketing edge for your condo or apartment complex? A well-designed and landscaped green roof can add an element of uniqueness to any property.
- Live in dry area? Xeriscaping (low water use plantings) can be used to create an attractive rooftop without requiring extra watering.
- Reducing costs? Green roofs can dramatically extend the life of your roof while cutting HVAC costs. And, it can be eligible for tax credits and government incentives.
- Drowning in rain? Stormwater run-off solutions often incorporate green roofs with self-irrigation systems.
Conclusion: Win-win-win. The high-in-the sky retreat can save you big bucks on roofing materials, heat and cooling costs losses, and add expanded, usable building space while adding a touch of nature and beauty.
Pfister Energy of Baltimore recently conducted a Green Roof video competition in their area. The lucky school that won had a green roof installed at no cost. You can see the student video submissions here!
Have you thought about green roofing? Have you ever looked out from a very tall building and seen a beautiful roof garden below? And, how much did you envy it? (They’re pretty cool!)
Next blog: Warehouse Your Rain to Reduce Water and Sewer Utility Bills