Green roof moves Colorado College closer to carbon neutral goal

Green roof moves Colorado College closer to carbon neutral goal

Photo courtesy of Colorado College

Colorado College recently installed a 2,650-square-foot LiveRoof green roof on its Honnen Ice Arena, moving the school closer to its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020, according to a press release.

Living roofs provide important energy reduction benefits, such as reducing this ice arena’s use of air conditioning during warmer months, while the plants will serve to sequester carbon emissions.

Colorado College is actively pursuing goals such as preserving regional and community water supply by reducing potable water usage by 50 percent. The institution incorporates operational strategies, including storm water management and treatment, water-efficient landscaping and water-use reduction.

Colorado College has long-embraced sustainability through a progressive plan of tangible initiatives to address energy consumption, sustainability in the dining halls, water resource policies, waste and recycling practices, according to the release.

Green roofs reduce stormwater runoff by 65-90 percent in the summer and 25-40 percent during winter months by using succulent sedum plants. The drought-tolerant sedums have been custom-grown for this rooftop garden to match the local climate. The result is a low-maintenance green space that reduces heating and cooling costs, extends roof life, lowers noise pollution and provides a natural air filtration system.

At Colorado College, sustainability encompasses elements of the entire campus. Built in 2005, the 54,123-square-foot Russell T. Tutt Science Center was the first building in southern Colorado to earn LEED certification, and the first LEED certified science center in the country. Colorado College has also received LEED gold certification for the Cornerstone Arts Center.

The college is also a member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the local Southern Colorado Green Building Council.

The new LiveRoof green roof covering Honnen Ice Arena features a patented, subterranean modular system that unites soil and plants creating a beautiful, meadow-like aesthetic. This green roof is cost effective, providing operational and maintenance cost savings from increased roof life, reduced energy use and stormwater management. The living roof will also reduce noise, protect air quality and provide natural beauty.

Vegetated roofs provide numerous, significant environmental benefits: 

  • Increases roof life; soil and plants provide a protective barrier reducing exposure to ultraviolet rays and extreme temperatures, along with a waterproof roof lining, to extend roof life by as much as 200-300 percent, or 40-50 years.
  • Reduces energy costs; improved thermal insulation and reduced heat island effect provide heating and cooling savings.
  • Lowers interior sound levels by as much as 40 decibels.
  • Improves air filtration; one square foot of green roof foliage can filter seven ounces of dust and smog per year. Plant photosynthesis also reduces greenhouse gases in the air.
  • Provides natural beauty; rooftop gardens provide a verdant, living space and habitable space when patios, walkways and seating is included in the garden design.

A planted roof also provides financial benefits including: the extension of roof life, energy conservation, and conservation of municipal septic systems. Green builders and remodelers can expect between 10–19 percent higher return on investment, as much as 10 percent increased building value, while enjoyed a marked reduction (up to 14 percent) in building operating costs.


Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Educational Buildings - Colleges and Universities, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Exteriors, Green Roofs / Garden Roofs, Roofing, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design

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