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Municipal Building Sprouts “Green Roof”

Roanoke City Council members water a portion of the new roof.

by Valerie Garner

Roanoke City residents will have inviting green vegetation to enjoy as they visit the City Treasurer’s window to pay their taxes. Monday afternoon city council members took time from their last glimpse at the city’s budget and before the beginning of the 2 p.m. council meeting to water some “green.”

It isn’t a new way to grow revenue but it is anticipated that the green roof will reduce heating and cooling costs by way of increased insulation. Ken Cronin, director of General Services and Sustainability, anticipates that it will increase the life of the existing roof membrane from 20 years to 60 years.

The roof has 2900 square feet of plants from Riverbend Nursery in Riner and 3800 square feet of 1584 mulched tires from Landscape Supply in Roanoke. The plants cost approximately $58,000 and include Sedum varieties known as “water conservators.” They store water when available and conserve it by closing their leaf pores during the day.

The total cost came to $123,000 and to keep costs down, city employees were used to install the roof. The green roof reduces the amount of storm water runoff by 27 percent per one inch of rain. It uses a rainwater harvesting system that includes six 500-gallon tanks for watering the green roof. The water will also be used by downtown cleaning crews and horticulture staff. Varsity Landscape installed the John Deere Green Tech Rainwater Harvesting System.

The roof will attract butterflies, insects and songbirds. A sign outlining the benefits of the roof will be installed. Cronin said, “Today I saw, for the first time, a songbird on the roof instead of the usual pigeon.”

Cronin said he “expects a significant cost savings by just having this plant material there.”

City Engineer Phil Schirmer and staff prepared design plans, Dwayne D’ardenne, transportation division, worked with contractors to design and install the green roof. Facilities Manager John McGhee and staff prepared the underlying roof membrane and configured roof drainpipes for the rainwater harvesting system.

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