Green Roof Grows on California University Dorm
The green roof on a LEED Platinum-certified University of California dormitory in San Diego is the first of its kind for the state’s university system and one of just a few commercial installations in the entire state.
It’s a fitting feature for the Charles David Keeling Apartments, named after the Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist who recorded and exposed the progressive buildup of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Home to more than 4,000 drought-tolerant succulents, flowering plants and low-spreading shrubs, the green roof reduces heating and cooling costs for the 158,000-square-foot, 500-bed building. It also serves as a wildlife habitat and pedestrian walkway between several of the towers.
The roof also captures stormwater, used to irrigate the gardens and funneled into the on-site water reclamation facility – where all of the site’s water is collected and reused in the laundry, sinks and showers.
“We have zero water demand for any irrigation on site,” Martin Poirier, the principal landscape architect told a local newspaper. “UCSD challenged us to experiment with the campus, to use the campus as a research tool. We took it to heart, so you’re seeing really cutting-edge techniques as far as stormwater capture.”
The roof presented a number of design challenges. A barrier was installed to ensure that roots wouldn’t grow into the building below, and a moisture mat was added for additional protection and to ensure that the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly. Architects also added aluminum planters, and drip and drainage systems.
The green roof is just one of the features that helped the apartment building earn a LEED Platinum certification in May 2012. It also boasts solar panels, extensive natural ventilation, and recycled building materials – as do all new housing being built at UCSD.
The world’s largest green roof grows atop a parking garage in Chicago, which boasts more green roofs than in any other US city. There are more than 200 there, covering 2.5 million square feet and helping mitigate the urban heat island effect.