The Missouri S&T Green Roof atop Emerson Hall features 16,000 plants arranged in the shape of a shamrock and provides research and teaching opportunities for faculty and students. Most of the plants growing on the roof are a variety of sedum and all were chosen for their ability to thrive in direct sun and wind with limited water.
The green roof and its subsequent research projects were made possible through a unique collaboration. The physical facilities department at S&T led the design of the roofing project and placed the green roof mat and growing medium on the roof. More than 50 S&T volunteers placed the plants.
Materials for the roof were donated by GAF Materials Corp., the nation’s largest roofing technologies firm. Helene Hardy-Pierce, vice president of technical services for GAF, was instrumental in securing the donation. Hardy-Pierce is a 1983 engineering management graduate of Missouri S&T and is a member of the Missouri S&T Board of Trustees.
Green Roof Components, pictured left, were shown to decrease stormwater runoff from the roof by more than 60 percent. Many urban areas have tremendous stormwater issues when dominated by impervous surfaces that do not infiltrate or slow down rainfall.
The other great benefit for large urban areas is to mitigate the heat island effect. Large urban areas retain the sun's energy as heat and can be around 4 degrees hotter in the day and 12 degrees hotter at night. When the green roof media retains rainwater, the evaporative cooling can dissipate the sun’s energy, just the same as sweat.
The savings for reduced air conditioning would be in the billions nationally if we could deal with urban heat island impacts.
The team at S&T is looking to help in this endeavor.