Albion Adds Vegetated Roof to Facilities Operations Building
Albion College's facilities operations division has been one of the campus leaders in making bold leaps to guarantee a green future for the community as it has included energy saving and material conservation features into its renovated headquarters building near the intersection of Huron and Porter streets.
To conserve electricity, the building includes a daylight harvesting feature in which interior lights turn off when monitors in the room sense a certain amount of daylight and thermostats allow for high efficiency heating and cooling. Materials were conserved as the carpeting in the building is composed of a high level of plastic to reduce the amount of the material placed in the trash.
Another feature, a vegetated roof or eco-roof covering over the awning, was installed after the plants were delivered May 15 as the department continues to experiment with green technologies for flat roofs.
"Vegetated roof systems have seen increased utilization in that the vegetation forms a renewable wear surface protecting the roof from deterioration and ultraviolet degradation in addition to managing rain water runoff," Ken Kolomodin, assistant vice president for facilities, noted.
Grounds supervisor Mark Frever explained that the sedum plants were grown at a nursery and delivered to campus in trays that cover two square feet. The trays were placed next two each other on top of the awning, and with the sedum growth at 90 percent coverage, the visual result is seamless.
What people may not notice as they walk past the facilities operations building throughout the year is how the seasonal changes affect the color of the sedum. Yellow blossoms have formed in the week since the plants have been installed, but that may give way to shades of red or purple at different times.
"Each sedum will display its strength as the seasons change," Frever said. "It is a succulent plant so it stores water and it can grow in drought-like conditions. It doesn't require a lot of maintenance in the long run.
"If you look at the facilities operations building from the quad and you notice a soft edge to it, that's the vegetated roof," he added.
Frever added his staff has a minimal maintenance plan of weeding and watering to follow this year, but the plants should become so dominant that little care will be needed past the startup phase.
Albion's staff is most interested to learn how the vegetated roof aids in the insulation of buildings and the collection of water after rain events. Frever noted materials touting the benefits of the vegetated roof say a green roof can reduce a 145-degree roof temperature to the current air temperature of 88 degrees.
"Can you imagine sitting on the black roof of the Dow Recreation and Wellness Center today?" Frever asked on a May afternoon when the high temperature reached 84 degrees. "The heat on that roof surface is significantly higher which means it is going to be harder to cool that building, but if we had an earth layer over the roof it would act as another layer of insulation. The vegetated roof soaks up the heat and keeps things cooler.
"A flat roof also acts as a catcher's mitt for rain," Frever added. "Everything is collected and it goes down the storm sewers. These trays of sedum absorb water until it is saturated. We could have rainfall events that we never release water to the drains."
If the vegetated roof experiment is successful, Frever said it could become the model when other flat roofing surfaces around campus are in need of renovation.
"I'm excited about the possibilities," Frever said. "I know we have some flat roofs that may be replaced in the future. If the roofs can structurally prove to hold the weight they could be candidates for a vegetated surface."