Geauga Park District installs
Northeast Ohio's first green roof

The following article from the Geauga Park District newsletter discusses why the district decided to install a green roof on a new auxilliary building at the West Woods Nature Centerthe first green roof in Northeast Ohio. Green or ecological roofs involve covering the rooftop (even pitched roofs) in a relatively thin layer of soil and vegetation. They are low maintenance and beneficial in controlling temperatures and stormwater runoff. Plus, they look great.

A study in green

Erosion, drainage, soil, plantsall these terms sound more related to planting a garden or landscaping your yard than to roof construction. But for Geauga Park District, even buildings are more pleasing when they are green.

When planning the West Woods Nature Center, park planners and architects Anthony Paskevich and Associates, were conscientious to incorporate as many “green” features as possible into the building, including geothermal heating and cooling, E-glass, demand hot water supplies, motion activated water and lights, and even a sanitation system utilizing wetlands. The most unusual of these green features is a vegetated or green roof.

Unlike a traditional roof constructed from asphalt shingles, a green roof is composed of layers of waterproofing, a root barrier, drainage materials, a soil medium and living plants. Although green roofing is more common in Europe, in the United States there are only a few examples, which are primarily built on flat surfaces. The green roof in the West Woods has been built on a 4:12 slope.

As a pilot project for Geauga Park District, Roofscapes, Incorporated and Lichtenfels Nursery installed this green roof in April (2002) on an auxiliary building adjacent to the new nature center in The West Woods. The George Gund Foundation showed their support of this “Green Roof Pilot Project” by donating $25,000.00 to subsidize the costs, which can be as much as 3 to 4 times higher than those for conventional roofing.

Park staff will monitor rainwater and temperature variances on this new roof, as a means to document the benefits of a green roof for others interested in green construction practices. Some of the environmental and aesthetic benefits of a green roof are:

  • The reduction of impermeable surfaces, that in turn reduce storm water runoff and its effects.
  • Shielding from ultraviolet radiation, thereby reducing temperature extremes inside the building and weathering outside.
  • The ability to blend into the surrounding environment
  • Additional habitat for hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and other insects.

This type of construction would be a great asset to urban environments that are inundated by the effects of storm water runoff. Imagine the impact on Cleveland sewers and streets if atop all of the buildings were garden roofs. And instead of rainwater running from the roof to other asphalt or concrete surfaces below, the green roof allowed the water to be absorbed and released gradually.

Wouldn’t these green rooftops on flat-roofed office buildings make nice spots for lunch breaks on spring and summer afternoons? That is an activity you wouldn’t even consider on an asphalt roof that could reach temperatures as high as 190 degrees.

Should green roofs become more commonplace, humans and wildlife would both be likely to enjoy their aesthetic and environmental benefits. Perhaps, through education, Geauga Park District can help promote more green building features for future generations.


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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2003



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