Green roof laid on Kalamazoos City Hall

Green roof laid on Kalamazoos City Hall

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KALAMAZOO Something is growing on top of City Hall.

Installation of a 4,600 square-foot green roof should be completed today on top of one of Kalamazoos most recognizable buildings.

About 2,300, 1-by-2-foot trays are being installed, said Jennifer Smith, a sales specialists for LiveRoof. a Spring Lake-based company which is providing the vegetation for the roof.

The greening of City Halls roof is funded through a 2009 federal stimulus gran t from the U.S. Department of Energy. The $762,200 grant, of which $282,200 was budgeted for the green roof and other roof repairs, also is paying for the rehabilitation of the buildings original exterior windows, replacement of the inner storm windows and installation of a cooling unit for the air conditioner. The money also will cover an energy audit.

In the first three years after the projects are completed, the city has committed to a 5 percent reduction in energy consumption. In 10 years after the audit, it hopes to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent.

Other green roofs in the Kalamazoo-area are at the Kalamazoo Regional Center of Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, Prairie Ridge Elementary School, Linden Grove Middle School and Bells Brewery in Comstock.

On Thursday, workers from Dorr-based Modern Roofing Inc. were laying down the trays and locking them together on the City Hall roof. In an hour, nearly an entire section of the roof went from a tan membrane cover to dark green vegetation.

Installing a green roof on Kalamazoo City Hall A green roof was installed on Kalamazoo’s City Hall on Aug 11 and 12

LiveRoof grows the plants for the roof and also provides training for installation. The company has 19 greenhouses in the United States and four in Canada, which allows different areas of the country to get the right kind of plants for their climate.

It costs between $20 and $25 per square foot for the plants, Smith said.

For the City Hall roof, the trays contain sedum and a variety of accent plants. These plants are 10 times more efficient at holding water than turf grass, Smith said. And because their leaf pores open at night, the plants lose a lot less water.

The plantings also provide an extra layer between the elements and the actual roof, which means the roof can last up to two to three times longer, he said.

The plants will have a variety of colors throughout the year. In the summer they are green. As fall turns to winter, some will turn a burgundy red.

Almost like a patchwork quilt, Smith said.

The plants are in 4 inches of soil. Once the plants are fully grown, they will be between 2 and 14 inches high, Smith said.

LiveRoofs system is a hybrid interlocking trays that allow easy assembly but also let the plants and roots grow between the trays, completely covering the roof. If the roof needs to be reached, its easy to take out the needed trays, Smith said.

LiveRoof has done other projects in Kalamazoo, including the Miller Canfield building downtown and part of Kalamazoo Valley Community Colleges campus in Texas Township.

Future projects include the new Sangren Hall on Western Michigan Universitys campus. The 6,700-square-foot roof will have a pattern of yellow and white blooming flowers, Smith said.

Marc Hatton, the citys redevelopment project manager who helped write the project grant, watched Thursday as the roof was being covered.

Without the grant, Hatton said the city wouldnt have been able to install the green roof or make the other energy-efficient improvements.

Besides saving money on energy costs, the roof will serve as an example for the city. Part of the LiveRoof package is to install observation decks to show the public and others what an operating green roof looks like.

Its pretty satisfying, Hatton said, a good way to lead by example for the city.

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