Green roof sprouts on United Methodist Building gbcs

Green roof sprouts on United Methodist Building gbcs

Sustainability programs implemented throughout building

Timelapse video showing the installation of the green roof.

WASHINGTON, D.C. As part of ongoing sustainability efforts, a green roof was installed at The United Methodist Building on July 2. The 572 sq. ft. "green roof" provides environmental and energy benefits for the building, tenants, and the urban community around Capitol Hill.

TectaAmerica crew prepares the surface above conference room 3 for the green roof. (Photo: Michelle Whittaker)

Green roofs are touted as an environmentally friendly, energy-saving solution. The vegetation absorbs water and helps filter pollutants.

In addition, green roofs help reduce the amount of heat absorbed into buildings, thereby decreasing the amount of energy needed to cool spaces.

The vegetation will capture rainfall and prevent rain pollutants from entering the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.

"The 13 different varieties of succulents," explained Rodney Chaney, TectaAmerica project manager for green-roof installations, "do well in low organic, lightweight growth medium."

A crew from TectaAmerica installed the roof in fewer than three hours using 2-ft. by 2-ft. panels of greens, called Sedums.

Greening the United Methodist Building

Built in 1923, The United Methodist Building is owned by the General Board of Church & Society. The building is home to numerous United Methodist and ecumenical partners including the General Commission on Religion & Race, the Council of Bishops, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and United Methodist Women. Most of the 100 Marylan Ave. NE building and its connected building at 110 are used as office space.

Recycling bins in the lobby of The United Methodist Buidling. (Photo: Michelle Whittaker)

The building features several sustainable programs including recycling bins, electronic-waste recycling, self-flushing toilets, motion sensor lights, and timed HVAC systems that automatically shut-off in the evenings.

"We at the General Board of Church & Society are very excited about the first section of green roof that has been installed in our building." said Terry Wiggin, GBCS chief financial officer. He oversees United Methodist Building maintenance and operations.

"Green roofs also are more durable than conventional membrane or other flat-roof construction," Wiggin said, "and the vegetation adds plants that are natural filters for many pollutants."

TectaAmerica estimates that the lifespan of the roof can double as the vegetation protects against UV radiation and temperature changes.

In addition to these benefits the green roof helps beautify the area. While there is no direct access to the green roof area, Wiggin said, "if you are on one of our top floors [of the 100 or 110 buildings], you can look down and enjoy the beauty of the green, lush vegetation that now adorns a portion of one of our lower roofs."

Greening the UMC

Throughout The United Methodist Church, people are actively pursuing green options in their places of worship and homes. John Hill, director of Economic & Environmental justice affirms that United Methodists "are really living into this call and finding ways in their individual lives, in their church lives, and throughout their community to be better caretakers of Gods creation."

After GBCS posted pictures of the green roof installation, individuals and churches began to share how they are being caretakers of creation.

  • Susie Smalley of Soldotna (Alaska) United Methodist Church shared how the congregation started a garden to compliment its community food pantry. Along with a recycling program, the congregation has converted its lawn into a garden to help provide food to the community.
  • Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, is reducing its energy consumption by installing solar panels on the roof.
  • Kurt Cooper and Sarah Roemer started a community garden and compost area on the campus of Emporia State University. Cooper is a member of the GBCS Board of Directors and campus minister at United Methodist Campus Ministry at the university.

All creation is the Lords

The United Methodist Social Principles declare, "All creation is the Lords, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it."

Environmental stewardship has been an important part of Methodism. John Wesley observed how lack of sanitation and pollution affected the health and wholeness of the community. Stewardship is about caring for the precious resources provided by our Creator and making sure others have equal access to clean natural resources.

"We are always looking for ways to live into our call to be caretakers of Gods good creation," Hill said. He offered 4 Rs of sustainable living:

  • Refuse to be defined as a consumer and reject materialism, being mindful of what we consume and how our consumption affects others in our community or around the world;
  • Reduce the amount of consumption individually and collectively by using energy-saving appliances, creating green spaces, turning off lights or electronic equipment when not in use;
  • Reuse material like containers, bags, glass and plastics;
  • Repurpose or recycle material once you have finished using it. Start a recycling program at your church and contact your local community leaders about community recycling programs.

Editors note: Michelle Whittaker is Director of Communications & New Media at the General Board of Church & Society.

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