Kid Reporter learns about a roof made from plants
Sergeant Martin Brown led Kid Reporter Maeve Hammond to the rooftop to see the anchoring rocks and seedum. (Photo: Courtsey of Maeve Hammond)
Most people grow plants in gardens or farms. But my city decided to grow plants on a new roof! Battle Creek, Michigan, is going “green.” The city is using plants on the roof for the Battle Creek Police Department. That’s why this project is called a green roof.
The old roof was flat, and had a protective barrier and some rocks to hold it in place and protect it from the sun. The new green roof has two inches of soil and plant material.
Why plants? The added layers hold and filter rain water and also provide protection.
The city contacted Soil and Materials Engineers, Inc. (SME) to help them choose the right roof. SME is a company that helps to build and design buildings and other big structures. The project manager for the police department's new roof was J. Art Johnson, a Senior Consultant (CET). He oversaw the design and installation of the green roof.
“It took my design team about 8 months for the design, and approval process, and construction was about 3 months,” Johnson said.
Johnson used a plant called sedum because they can store lots of water in their leaves. They also are a very hardy or strong plant.
“It is a very hardy plant, but you can also plant flowering perennials, and several types of trees. They don't necessarily have to be native, but they should be hardy varieties," Johnson explained
Projects like Battle Creek’s help the environment and can save on energy bills. Even though green roofs can be very expensive, there are grants available. The City of Battle Creek used one of these to install their green roof.
“Green roofs, when properly installed, are good for the environment. It should be the trend of the future. They could reduce energy costs by 25-50 percent,” Johnson said.
A Good Choice
Johnson thought the police department building was a good site for a new green roof because “the building was structurally sound enough to get a green roof. Most roofs are not.”
The green roof will help clean rainwater of pollutants. It will also keep pollutants from entering the drinking water. Johnson estimated that Battle Creek's green roof should deliver more than 75 percent water retention.
“It also filters the water before it goes into the city's storm sewer system,” Johnson added.
When you have the right building and a green roof installed, it could pay for the cost of the roof, decrease energy costs, and benefit the environment. What a way to go—green!
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Maeve Hammond is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.