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Grantee Research Project Results

Regionally Appropriate Sustainable Design: Urban Green Roof Applications for Temperate Continental Climates

EPA Grant Number: SU833194
Title: Regionally Appropriate Sustainable Design: Urban Green Roof Applications for Temperate Continental Climates
Investigators: Hornbach, Dan , Dickinson, Mark , Dosch, Jerald
Institution: Macalester College
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: September 30, 2006 through May 30, 2007
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006)
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development


As a strategy for sustainable development, green roof technology is gaining acceptance in the U.S. However, widespread adoption in highly variable continental climates, such as the Upper Midwest (EPA Region 5), lags behind green roof use in cities with similar climates in Europe. Research to confirm its economic and environmental benefits can inform, even accelerate, green roof adoption. We will install a 1350 sq. ft. extensive green roof of native plants on an existing campus building. This installation supplements a college-funded, 300 sq. ft. container green roof constructed by students in 2006. Monitoring of both surfaces will investigate the economic benefits of green roof technology (energy conservation for HVAC systems, augmented roof membrane durability, and improved storm water management). Also, the research will examine the environmental benefits (reduced carbon emissions, minimizing storm-water discharge, and lowering the urban heat island effect). Measurement methods include infrared scanning to compare the insulation value of the green roof section to conventional surfaces and to calculate R-values. We will also monitor monthly fuel usage to measure fuel savings. Infrared scanning and the use of thermocouples to measure ambient air temperature will also establish how green roof technologies moderate the urban heat island effect. Finally, we will monitor both the flow and composition of storm water run off to determine how green roof technologies moderate the velocity and improve the quality of storm water. This project will be integrated into the curriculum through student independent research projects, with Professors Dosch and Hornbach. Placards describing the green roof installations will be visible to campus and community pedestrians. Additional signage explaining P3 concepts applied to the built environment will be visible from surrounding dormitories, raising the importance of sustainability on campus and emphasizing the practicality of P3 approaches. Artic explorer Will Steger has launched an environmental education project and will integrate this project, in multimedia format, into the curriculum and website.

Supplemental Keywords:

ambient air, conservation, EPA Region 5, measurement methods, Midwest, monitoring, sustainable development, water,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, sustainable housing, sustainable development, green design, environmental sustainability, environmental conscious construction, green building design, alternative building technology, green roof, architecture

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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