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The Value of Green Roof Technology

Joel G. Burken, Ph.D., P.E. and W. Eric Showalter, Ph.D.,P.E., Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Green roof technologies can offer value in many ways. Value aspects include: energy savings, aesthetic benefits, water treatment and management benefits, ecological services, heat island benefits, and public relations benefits. Among these, water management and treatment benefits for the urban infrastructure setting are not well characterized and are highly regionally and spatially variable. No current research facilities are active in Missouri to evaluate these aspects or to serve as a demonstration or outreach facility. Establishing this research project will facilitate.

The data gathered as part of this study is timely and sought as part of the current needs to address storm water in urban settings. The need for such research is clearly identified at all levels. Urban storm water and campus storm water are both current research topics/targets for Rolla and for Missouri S&T, respectively. The problems associated with urban storm water are known and clearly visible from the location of the proposed project, eutrophic lake in city park 2 blocks downhill. The needs for addressing these issues are also clearly identified at a state and even a national scale. The National Academy of Engineering has among nitrogen management, urban infrastructure improvement, and clean water as 3 of their 14 grand challenges. Clearly there is need for such research at all scales and the unique timing and setting of this proposed project offers a unique opportunity to leverage the limited funding to initiate collaboration with GAF roofing for a contribution valued at $75,000 that is contingent at securing research funds to study the system if installed.

The specific research proposed has a high probability of success. The linkage to the Green Roof Environmental Evaluation Network (G.R.E.E.N.) and the available research instrumentation located one floor below the proposed green roof location affords great confidence in an initial endeavor to this research area that is new to Missouri, as the project will be built (literally and figuratively) on with the knowledge that this network has amassed already on establishing a successful green roofs research platform. The project will provide valuable data to the G.R.E.E.N. consortium, as there is no source of data in the state of Missouri nor is there an educational or outreach partner. The project is also built (literally and figuratively again) on a successful analytical chemistry laboratory and a premier educational facility, being a floor above the environmental engineering labs and the architectural engineering design studio.