Thursday, May 8, 2008

Betty's on the roof!

Betty took an exciting field trip Tuesday to accompany Gregor Patsch, water resources engineer at the County Office Building, for a tour of their 9,000 square foot green roof, the first of its kind to be built in Charlottesville in 2005.

It's a sprawling pastiche of five varieties of seedum which provide even more benefits than this betty realized!

Gregor and his crew have been charting the positive effects with a simple monitoring system on the roof that tracks roof temperatures.

They've found that in the summer the roof is 40% cooler and in the winter 25% warmer than a conventional stone roof. The insulating effects of the plantlife reduce the need for heating and cooling, which is good news for the county building's carbon footprint. But that only scratches the surface (pun intended) of the good things provided by this roof! It also:

*reduces the urban runoff by absorbing the rainfall
*expands the roof's life and therefore is a more sustainable roof building practice for some types of roofs (rooves? :-) see below
*the roof is providing oxygen for you and me
*the roof is providing habitat for bees, bugs, and the butterflies seemed pretty happy with it as well when I visited
*the roof is providing an educational opportunity(Gregor said he's giving around 100 tours a year!)

As far as the applicability for the average homeowner, unfortunately, it doesn't directly translate as a benefit for a couple of reasons. The initial cost of putting a green roof on top of an existing roof would be extremely hard to recoup (and depending on the pitch, may don't be doable). This type of green roof is ideal for large businesses with flat roofs and plenty of square footage. Think of an airport hanger roof.

I would love to see the top of Giant (and attached strip mall) on Pantops or the top of Teeter (along with Barracks' shops) or the Fashion Square Mall roof turn green, wouldn't you? I sincerely hope there is a landlord out there who has taken a corporate meeting coffee break somewhere to read their favorite new blog (uhhum, Betty) because green roofs on these buildings could actually change a cities weather system, says Patsch! Can you imagine cooler Augusts in the 'Ville?

Ahh. Stay tuned for a future green roof top, Charlottesville's City Hall...
(accompanying photo will appear tomorrow!)

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