Green Roof Provides Learning Opportunities at the University of Iowa’s Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building

Established just 59 days after Iowa became a state in 1847, the University of Iowa, Iowa City, boasts a number of firsts. In 1855, it became the first U.S. public university to admit men and women; at that time, its enrollment consisted of 124 students—41 of which were women. In 1873, it was the first school to grant a law degree to a woman. In 1895, it became the first university to place an African American on a varsity sports team.

As such, the university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. PHOTO: Roof Top Sedums LLC

The university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. PHOTO: Roof Top Sedums LLC


In more recent years, the university has strived to lead via its environmental efforts. As a Green Power Partner of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the university pledges to reduce the environmental impact of electricity generation through the use of renewables. In 2010, it established its first sustainability plan—2020 Vision UIowa Sustainability Targets, which contains the following goals:

  • Become a Net-negative Energy Consumer
  • Green Our Energy Portfolio
  • Decrease Our Production of Waste
  • Reduce the Carbon Impact of Transportation
  • Increase Student Opportunities to Learn and Practice Principles of Sustainability
  • Support and Grow Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainability-focused and Related Areas
  • Develop Partnerships and Advance Collaborative Initiatives, both Academic and Operational

Among the University of Iowa’s strategies to achieve its sustainability goals is ensuring all new construction and major renovations on campus achieve a minimum LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington.

The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes.

The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes. PHOTO: Scott Nagel


As such, the university’s new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building was designed and built with sustainability in mind. The 200,000-square-foot, 6-story building, which officially opened in October 2014, boasts many environmentally friendly attributes, including glow-emitting sealants, paints, carpet and other materials; water-efficient landscaping; and recycled content and regional materials. It also achieves an-other university first: three green roofs, one of which provides students the opportunity to grow medicinal plants.

Opting for Trays

Des Moines, Iowa-based landscape architecture firm Confluence has been completing projects at the University of Iowa for many years through its Iowa offices—Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Confluence was hired by the project’s architect of record, Rohrbach Associates PC Architects, Iowa City, to complete landscaping around and on top of the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building in the form of three green roofs that total approximately 6,440 square feet. Despite the building’s consider-able roof area, the design team opted to install the green roofs on lower roof areas upon which building occupants would be looking. The rest of the roof cover is a reflective membrane system.

Confluence provided the layout for a modular green roof on the three distinctive roof areas. Patrick Alvord, PLA, RA, LEED AP, a principal in Confluence’s Cedar Rapids office, notes the chosen tray system was off-the-rack, which is what made it appealing to him and his colleagues. “We spent a lot of time talking to the manufacturer and they were just great to work with,” Alvord says. “We had a number of case studies of work they had done in the Chicagoland area that had proven very successful, so we had a very high level of comfort right out of the gate.”

Alvord opted to use the 6-inch-deep tray model because it would provide some flexibility in the plant materials that could be specified. “We were able to specify different plant materials in the plan of the roof to coordinate with shade, densities and location,” he says. “In areas where the roof would be highly visible from floors above, we did some patterning with the plants. In areas where we had the opportunity to go deep, we planted deeper-rooting plants that will grow taller and provide a denser plant palette.”

The plants are a mix of native and adaptive Iowa plants, as well as recommendations from the green-roof supplier. “It’s a mix of perennials, grasses and forbs, ranging from sedums to liatris to a number of different things,” Alvord notes.

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Project Profiles: Health Care

MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL, BOSTON

TEAM

Roofing contractor: Chapman Waterproofing Co., Boston
Architect/engineer: Cambridge Seven Associates Inc., Cambridge, Mass.
Membrane and waterproofing manufacturer: Kemper System America Inc.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, features a Kemperol waterproofing and roofing membrane for its green roof.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, features a Kemperol waterproofing and roofing membrane for its green roof.

ROOF MATERIALS

The Kempertec EP-Primer was used to prepare the substrate surfaces for membrane installation and served as a temporary waterproofing system, allowing the project to be exposed to the harsh New England winter while it was completed in phased stages.

The owners chose the Kemperol waterproofing and roofing membrane, a two-component with catalyst, high-performance, seamless and self-terminating cold-fluid-applied reinforced unsaturated polyester system. The monolithic edge-to-edge rot- and root-resistant Kemper membrane is engineered to resist degradation from UV exposure and heat intensity and is resistant to most common chemicals.

ROOF REPORT

Founded in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital is the third oldest general hospital in the U.S. and the oldest and largest in New England. The 900-bed medical center offers sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic care in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery. When MGH’s owners envisioned constructing a new 9,000-square-foot green roof above the MGH cancer wing, they had two chief concerns: safety and long-term durability.

The landscaped roof design includes four different gardens with extensive shrubbery, trees and grass designed to provide cancer patients with a haven for relaxation and meditation to aid in the healing process.

A key challenge concerning the hospital’s green roof was its hundreds of penetrations, spaced inches apart, for a sprinkler system to irrigate the landscaped roof. A leak-detection system was installed across the entire square footage of the project to detect water before it seeps into the interior of the building. The leak-detection system confirms the project’s seal-tight success. Upon completion, Kemper System provided a 20-year, no-dollar-limit warranty.

PHOTO: KEMPER SYSTEM AMERICA INC.

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An Atlanta Neighborhood Receives Much-needed Health and Community Services All Under One Roof

Fulton County, Ga., administrators believe policy drives the conditions in which people live and work. When socio-economic conditions are poor and there are few public services, administrators believe the physical and mental health of community residents suffer. As such, in 2008, Fulton County’s Health and Human Services departments were charged with identifying opportunities to improve community health through programs and policies.

Adamsville Regional Health Center is a hybrid building that not only provides primary-care, dental and behavioral health clinics, but also offers child-care facilities, housing resources and access to the library system, as well as a workforce development center.

Adamsville Regional Health Center is a hybrid building that not only provides primary-care, dental and behavioral health clinics, but also offers child-care facilities, housing resources and access to the library system, as
well as a workforce development center.

As part of the resulting Common Ground initiative, county administrators now are providing services to underserved areas. Adamsville, a predominantly African-American neighborhood located on the southwest side of Atlanta, was identified as a community in need. Fulton County’s solution was construction of a hybrid building that not only provides primary-care, dental and behavioral health clinics, but also offers child-care facilities, housing resources and access to the library system, as well as a workforce development center. The space also has approximately 500 square feet available for future use. The county hoped the new building would not only provide assistance to residents but also entice additional businesses and housing development in the area.

Although the project was smaller—34,000 square feet—than most completed by the Atlanta offices of architectural firm Stanley Beaman & Sears and general contractor Whiting-Turner Contracting, the design-build team was attracted to the concept. “We thought it was a good story,” says David Deis, project manager with Stanley Beaman & Sears, a firm that specializes in healthcare design. “It’s kind of a community center that taps into all that Fulton County has to offer, and we were both intrigued by that.”

As the team got started, it quickly realized putting all the disparate parts and pieces together into one facility during the 275-day timeframe Fulton County required was going to be challenging. Teamwork and a roof that identifies this “beacon for the community” brought it all together on schedule and within budget.

ROOF AS METAPHOR

As the design-build team began laying out the building’s program requirements, team members realized something had to organize the many services the new Adamsville Regional Health Center would provide. Deis says the team devised an interior “street” visitors can walk down to access the individual departments. “Visitors can see where the dental clinic is, where the primary care and behavioral health are,” he says. “It’s almost like you’re walking down the mall or a street and you’re seeing all these services.”

The roof is like a “quilt”, bringing all the departments and services together in one space. It also is a predominant feature on the site.

The roof is like a “quilt”, bringing all the departments and services together in one space. It also is a predominant feature on the site.

The team immediately knew the roof would be important. Not only would it be like a “quilt” bringing all the departments and services together in one space, but it also would be a predominant feature on the site.

Built along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, a state highway that leads into downtown Atlanta, the building would be seen by a lot of traffic. The site itself is street level next to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive but dramatically drops farther from the street. The design-build team opted to create a 2-story building in which the second story is level with the roadway. Parking and access to the first level were built in the back where the site plummets. The location of the building and the site’s topography dictated a roof that would capture the attention of passersby.

“Once we set the building and looked at it formally, we didn’t want people driving down the street and looking down onto a typical gable-type roof,” Deis says. “We knew the roof would be very dominant and we wanted to keep it clean and allow it to claim the corner at the intersection.”

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