May 2005

Architectural society installs green roof on headquarters
Innovative roof design meant to demonstrate benefits to encourage similar projects elsewhere

Washington, DC— The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is replacing the roof on its downtown Washington, DC, headquarters building with a green roof. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. will lead the design process, collaborating with Conservation Design Forum to develop the design and specifications for the approximately 3,300 square foot roof surface. Gensler will provide architectural services relating to the roof access.

“Landscape architects are leading many green roof projects across the U.S. and abroad, so it’s only fitting that ASLA provide a demonstration project on this sustainable technology that can cure so many urban ills,” said Nancy Somerville, executive vice president of the ASLA. “We hope to provide a catalyst for more green roof development in Washington and beyond.”

A green roof is a roof substantially covered with growing vegetation. Since the 1970’s, green roofs have increasingly become part of the European landscape, where there are over 100 million square feet of planted roofs today. Faced with soaring and unpredictable energy costs and the desire for higher performance buildings, more U.S. building owners are opting for green roof technology.

Studies show that green roofs provide incredible economic, environmental, and esthetic benefits. Green roofs: last up to twice as long as conventional roofs and also require less maintenance; save significantly on heating and cooling costs; HVAC equipment on new or retrofitted buildings can be reduced in size; amount of standard insulation can be decreased; insulate for sound; significantly reduce stormwater runoff and provide water filtration; improve air quality; reduce the urban heat island effect; provide esthetic amenities for tenants and neighbors; restore bio-habitat in urban areas; and provide many other benefits.

“With new technology, green roofs can be put on new or old buildings,” says Drew Becher, Washington, D.C.’s associate director of Parks and Recreation. Becher, the former chief of staff of the Chicago Park District who is credited with the “greening” and beautification of much of Chicago’s public realm, went on to say “Chicago, Portland, Seattle, and Boston have issued green roof guidelines, which shows that the technology is becoming more popular and mainstream.

Many cities are realizing that instead of investing in expensive sewer infrastructure underground, they can require new developments to have green roofs, whose beneficial water retention systems help reduce storm runoff, cutting down on sewer overflow into rivers and streams.”


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