Green roof with KU touch installed at Capitol Federal Hall

April 19, 2016

In late March, landscapers began installing a 7,000-square-foot green roof on Capitol Federal Hall.

The LiveRoof® sits atop the Dicus Family Auditorium and will be visible from the dean’s executive boardroom. The green roof system was custom-built for the School of Business to honor KU’s architectural history.

“A green roof is basically soil and plants on a building structure,” said Teresa Nelson, the Iowa-based landscape architect who oversaw Capitol Federal Hall’s green roof installation. “It’s not a landscape. It’s not a building material. It’s both.”

The green roof is composed of a permeable base layer, soil and a custom mix of plants. Nelson and her team considered fire resistance, wind uplift and other environmental factors when designing this custom system of plants and earth.

“You can’t just stick any old plant on a roof and expect good results,” Nelson said.

Capitol Federal Hall’s green roof is made of mostly red sedums, which will allow the plant system to have predominantly red foliage year-round, alongside evergreen plants to hold the soil in winter months.

LiveRoof® is a patented, subterranean modular system that combines soil and plants, creating a meadow-like aesthetic.

“Economically, it’s good to increase the longevity of a roofing system,” Nelson said. “By sheltering that roofing system with a green roof from UV radiation and thermal fluctuation, you’re going to extend the life of that roofing material underneath.”

Green roofs also provide a number of environmental benefits:

  • Reduce stormwater runoff by 60 to 80 percent
  • Lower interior sound levels by as much as 40 decibels
  • Improve air filtration (one square-foot of green roof can filter seven ounces of dust and smog per year)
  • Reduce greenhouse gases in the air through plant photosynthesis
  • Increase roof life (soil and plants provide a protective barrier, along with a waterproof roof lining, to extend roof life by as much as 200 to 300 percent)

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