University of Delaware’s Green Roofs

The classes at Colburn Laboratory at the University of Delaware would sometimes put students to sleep—not because they were boring, but because the temperature inside the classrooms could exceed 86 degrees.

Dr. Annette Shine, an associate professor of chemical engineering who taught inside the sweltering classrooms, thought that a green roof might solve the problem. She contacted her colleague Chad Nelson, assistant professor of landscape design, and their students began researching how to effectively create a green roof.

The benefits of a green roof are environmental, educational, and fiscal. The plants create an insulating effect, keeping classrooms six or more degrees cooler; there is less demand on the HVAC system in the building; a sponge effect absorbs storm water runoff; and students gain hands-on experience in both landscaping and engineering.

Chad Nelson noted, “During summer 2012, the roof not only saved 1150 kWh of electricity, or about 1470 lbs of CO2 emissions, but also diverted nearly 13,000 gallons of stormwater from running into nearby streams.”

With grants from the DuPont Clear Into The Future® Initiative, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and the University of Delaware, the project is officially underway. UD students and local Girl Scouts have begun to move two-foot-by-two-foot trays of colorful sedums, chives, and crocuses to the roof of Colburn Lab, and hope to have half of the roof covered by June 2012.

To view more images of the Colburn Laboratory green roof project, visit the photo gallery created by Chad Nelson, Assistant Professor of Landscape Design, University of Delaware Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

To learn more about UD’s green roof, watch this video from WDEL’s Amy Cherry.


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