When expanding the existing Pine-Richland High School Gibsonia, PA the district administrators sought to create a consolidate and expanded Science, Technology Education, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) program. Eckles’ project designers created a large addition to the school that included flexible spaces that could be used for a variety of collaborative learning opportunities. Among these learning spaces is an outdoor roof garden classroom that is directly accessible from the second floor corridors.
The design team evaluated a number of vegetative roofing products that have been evolving as environmentally conscious designs have increased in popularity. For this project, the Firestone SkyScape vegetative tray system was specified. This system utilizes modular plastic trays filled with a soil mixture as a growth medium.
The lush plant life that will fill this roof garden is made up of dozens of sedum varieties with an array of growth and flowering characteristics. This mix of plants includes a multitude of leaf colors and blooms that change with the seasons. The plants are shipped in pre-grown tiles that resemble sod mats. The tiles are arranged across the surface of the growth medium and will overlap the edges of the plastic trays. With thorough watering during an establishment period, the vegetative tiles will begin to root into the growth medium. Within weeks the tiles will become a hearty and seamless vegetative roof.
The roof garden at the Pine-Richland High School will serve as an outdoor educational space, but vegetative roofs also have a number of environmental advantages. Vegetative roof systems reduce storm water runoff by absorbing the rainwater that would normally be collected on the roof and discharged into local storm systems. When integrated into an overall design, storm water management systems may be downsized resulting in a cost savings at installation time. Vegetative roofs can also enhance the thermal performance of a roof and can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. When rain water collection systems are incorporated into the design, the collected water can be used to irrigate the roof garden.
While attractive and environmentally friendly, rooftop gardens require special attention from design professionals to determine the structural support requirements as well as serviceability and future maintenance of the roof garden and the roof. If you are interested in a vegetative roof design, contact us today to discuss potential options with our design team.