Rooftop garden, vegetable garden, ornamental plants provide beauty, health and environmental benefits
The Midtown, a new housing development located just five miles from downtown Denver, features purposeful gardens including a green roof on its community center, called the Garden Shed.
The aptly named Garden Shed has already earned kudos for owners Brookfield Residential. The community center, featuring the living roof, is a unique venue for art exhibits, community events and parties as it welcomes all who enter the Midtown community. An outdoor plaza invites lectures, live music and seating within the garden. Homeowners can rent private garden plots or participate in the professionally led AM Farmer program, too.
“A planted roof is a natural fit in the urban garden environment,” said Charissa Wagner of Intermountain Roofscape Supply, the grower for the Midtown green roof. “In this setting, the living roof provides both social and aesthetic beauty as well as environmental benefits such as heat island mitigation, storm water management, noise reduction, and even a habitat for local wildlife.
Schultz Industries of Golden, CO installed the 860-square-foot rooftop garden. Featuring LiveRoof Hybrid Green Roof System, the vegetative roof has soil depths ranging from 4.25” to 6” to support a diverse palette of plants suited to the rigors of the Colorado climate. The roof is planted with native and adaptive ornamental grasses and perennials such as rudbeckia, autumn joy sedum, feather-reed grass, yucca and bluestem.
The site is replete with a vegetable garden, ornamental plantings, a fenced, leash-free dog park and access to the 21-mile Clear Creek Bike Path. As part of the planned retail, the Brookside Residential development team recently announced Bruz Beers will be joining the Midtown community in the coming months.
Green Roof Benefits
- Better Stormwater Management: Immediate stormwater runoff reduced by 50-90 percent. Green roofs filter rainwater water and act as a buffer against acid rain.
- Longer Roof Life: Plants and soil serve as a protective shield and prevent UV radiation from degrading roof components. Fewer cracks and leaks. Waterproof membranes can last 200-300 percent longer.
- Energy Conservation: On a sunny 95°F day, conventional rooftop surfaces can hit 175°F. By shading and insulating the rooftop, green roofs bring these temperatures in line with the ambient air temperature. They reduce indoor temperatures and energy consumption, especially for air condtioning in summer. This decreases costs for building owners.
- Interior Noise Reduction: Lower indoor sound levels, as much as 40 decibels.
- Urban Heat Island Effect Mitigation: Plants release oxygen and evaporate water. Green roof soil also evaporates water. That makes a green roof function like an evaporative cooling system. The combination of the umbrella effect (shading and insulating) and evaporative cooling moderate temperatures at street level.
- Improved Air Quality: Every one square foot of green roof can filter about seven ounces of dust and smog particles per year. And through the process of photosynthesis, plants covert carbon dioxide, water and sunlight/energy into oxygen and glucose. This results in reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- Enhanced Aesthetics: Green space is visually appealing and inviting. People feel better and are more productive when they have a natural view. Barren rooftops become habitable spaces with walkways, patios and seating and thereby add useable space to buildings.
Business Benefits: the Main Drivers for Building Green
- Reduction in Operating Costs: On average, 13.6 percent for new buildings and 8.5 percent for retrofits.
- Increase in Building Values: On average, 10.9 percent for new buildings and 6.8 percent for retrofits.
- Increase in Return on Investment (ROI): On average, 9.9 percent for new buildings and 19.2 percent for retrofits.
Source: McGraw-Hill Construction, Green Outlook 2011: Green Trends Driving Growth