Path Home Shows 2011 Show Archive September 2011 Show 1136 OU Green Roof

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One way to limit water runoff is to keep rainfall right where it falls. Rooftop gardens are starting to popup across the country designed to do just that.
OU Green Roof

Rooftop garden

For more information visit these links:

State of Oklahoma Environment Office
University of Oklahoma -- College of Architecture
Texas Green Roofs

Show Dates

Show 1136: OU Green Roof

Air date: September 4, 2011



Rob:  Well one way to limit water runoff is to keep the rainfall right where it falls.

Rooftop gardens are starting to pop-up across the country and our Alisa Hines was there as one was unveiled at the National Weather Center in Norman.

Alisa Hines:  Well Rob, most people wouldn't think about putting plants on top of their roofs; but, estimates are that a green roof can capture up to 75% of rainfall.

The roof at OU’s Weather Center is alive with activity because it’s alive with plants…

Reid Coffman:  So you can reduce your energy, your AC bill, by quite a bit.

Alisa:  living, breathing, roofs; sort of.

Dr. Reid Coffman is with the University of Oklahoma’s School of Meteorology.

Reid:  This is an experimental green roof at the National Weather Center.  This is a collaboration between the College of Architecture and the School of Meteorology and we’re beginning to look at the way in which vegetative roof system technology can apply to central Oklahoma.

Alisa:  A system of plants in trays that absorb rain water, reducing runoff, that according to Secretary of the Environment, J D Strong, is a source of pollutants to our water.

J D:  A lot of people when they think of pollution of our, our streams and lakes, they think of big pipes coming out of a waste-water treatment plant or a big industry.  But we find, typically, in a lot of water sheds across the state, is roughly half of the pollutants going in are coming from just simple, storm water runoff, off the landscape.

Alisa:  Along with keeping water from running off as much, a green roof also has another benefit.

J D:  Probably the thing that’s most attractive to most Oklahomans is the energy savings that come from these, anywhere from 25% to 75%, depending on the application of energy savings.  And of course that means less electricity that has to be generated, and the pollutants that typically go along with electrical generation are saved as a result of that.

Alisa:  State-of-the-Art technology that has its roots in the Oklahoma soil; working much like the sod houses of early pioneers.

Ed Borger:  I think it’s, it’s about the efficiencies that people had when they didn’t have a lot of resources.  When you use the word sustainability, sometimes it’s about just common sense; it’s about using things that are available to you and, and being more environmentally responsible because of that.  The sod roofs were used because they cooled the structure and that seems to be the case in even our conventional technologies.

They are becoming popular.

Alisa:  Ed Borger is with Texas Green Roofs and says live roofs are the wave of the future.

Ed:  Building owners that I talk to that have asked us to put the green roof on are looking to the future; they say, you know if I don’t put a green roof on, my resale value in 10 or 20 years might not be as good as it should be because everyone else might have one.

Alisa:  So while money may not grow on trees, experts say the plants grown on this roof, will help keep money in your pocket.

Now since the plants are in trays, they are moveable; once the experiment is finished, they’ll be moved to another more permanent location.

Rob:  So, if this is just an experiment, what’s the big picture here?

Alisa:  Well, what they would like to see is Oklahoma become more competitive for urban development.  And then they’d also like to see us have, maybe a better quality of life by going green.

Rob:  Alright, thanks so much Alisa.