Amanda Gray '12 | October 14, 2018
It's been said that Notre Dame's school colors are "blue and gold and sometimes green," and now that erstwhile third color applies even to our roofs.
When the Campus Crossroads buildings opened earlier this year, they came equipped with 43,000 square feet of "green roofs" — building-speak for rooftop garden plots that assist with energy reduction, cost savings and rainwater management. Continuing the sprouting trend, the University recently unveiled the largest green roof in Indiana on the roof of the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center.
At Notre Dame, the installation of green roofs is part of the University-wide Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy. Announced in 2015, the plan is a response to Laudato si’, Pope Francis’ charge to Catholics for “swift and unified global action” to combat consumerism and irresponsible land development with green initiatives and better stewardship. Along with green roofs, coal reduction is another facet of the strategy: University officials recently announced that Notre Dame will cease burning coal well ahead of its 2020 goal.
A recent trip to the JACC's new rooftop revealed a wide array of flora — 25 of species of intentionally chosen plants that work best on green roofs — separated by gravel pathways. It’s visible from both the upper floors of neighboring Corbett Family Hall and the flight path overhead, and it was designed to echo the crisscross pathways of campus’ quads. According to a University press release, the roof measures in at 79,096 square feet, breaking the previous statewide record held by the Campus Crossroads project.
“It’s very visually pleasing, especially compared to this time last year,” says Greg Seiss, vice president of Midland Engineering, the contractor that installed the roof. “It was a boring flat roof. Now, it’s beautiful.”
The project, begun in April and finished in August, required nearly 25,000 man hours, 40 truckloads of materials and 40,000 trays of plants. The plants were grown by LiveRoof in Spring Lake, Mich. The trays, which look similar to your garden-variety (pun intended) trays from the greenhouse, interlock across the roof and all but disappear once together. If needed, maintenance crews can pluck out a tray and replace it with a fresh one, Seiss said.
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