by Leah Shutes, Published March 22, 2012
Eastern is testing its green thumb on the roof of the newly constructed Science Complex. At least 16 plant species are growing on the building's west side from a special peat/soil mix.
Why a rooftop garden? Aside from the visual aspect, green roofs offer a number of benefits. Because the plants absorb water, the garden provides better storm water runoff management. The garden also acts as an insulator, helping the building stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. As a result, EMU will save about $3,600 per year in energy costs. The green roof and other building efficiencies may help the complex earn LEED certification.
Steven Moore, EMU's energy and sustainability manager, says the plants can withstand Michigan's climate throughout the year and require only occasional care.
"The grounds department will tend to the plants," Moore says. "Due to safety concerns, the public is not allowed on the roof, but it can be viewed from above the third floor on the building's west side."
While there are no classes designed specifically for the green roof, Moore says some professors have integrated the garden into their lessons. Others are seeking to include the garden in future curriculums.