Sidebar: Green Roofs and Maintenance Challenges

By Dan Hounsell, Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Michigan Hospital Enhances Sustainability Efforts With Vegetative RoofPt. 2: Helping a Green Roof Reach Peak Performance LevelsPt. 3: Lessons Learned from Green Roof Process at Michigan HospitalPt. 4: This Page

Green Roofs and Maintenance Challenges

A growing number of institutional and commercial facilities are considering the installation of vegetative roofs and roof gardens in an effort to enhance overall sustainability. To ensure the post-installation performance of these roofs, maintenance and engineering managers need to carefully consider the challenges the roofs can present that more traditional roofs generally do not.

Consider the demands created by maintaining the vegetation that makes up the roof surface, as well as disposing of unwanted vegetative materials. In 2012, Penn State Hershey Medical Center installed a 5,600-square-foot roof garden on its cancer institute and main lobby addition.

"We wanted the building to be LEED certified, and one of the (LEED) points was the greening of the roof," says Carolyn Akers, project director with the facilities department at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. "The other element is that we've been talking about the effects of nature and these gardens on healing. It sort of calms and soothes and has a very positive impact on the patients."

The roof has performed well since installation, Akers says, but the post-installation phase of the project presented the department with one unexpected challenge.

"One of the things that we maybe could have thought through better, if we had planned it a little better, is how we were going to get plants up there and get things like clippings and cuttings down," Akers says. "You always have leaves and other things you're cleaning up. Unfortunately, that stuff has to come into the lobby on the third floor past the public area to a service area. We maybe could have rethought that a little bit, but except for that, it was a pretty good effort."

During the roof garden's installation, the department also saw the need to update the plumbing system in another effort to minimize the need to bring other maintenance-related materials — in this case, water — through the hospital.

"We did have them add some irrigation up on the roof because getting water up there when the hospital is occupied is very difficult," Akers says. "It's hard to take dirty maintenance things onto a roof. We're always covering everything, so we did request to have water up there. That was added along the way."

— Dan Hounsell

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  posted on 10/14/2014   Article Use Policy

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