One Green Roof at a Time

Roofing professionals are not usually perceived as people with green thumbs. Sure, they have strong backs and a can-do attitude, but do they have the finesse it takes to work with plants? Well, the roofing team at Chamberlin has been working to change this perception one green roof at a time.

cover-pic-resize.jpgChamberlin was called on by general contractor, JE Dunn, to carry out a unique project at The Overlook which includes one of the first module-styled green roof systems to be installed in the Dallas, Texas area. A garden roof has many benefits for the owners as well as the occupants of the building, and Chamberlin was ready to take on the task during one of the state’s worst droughts. 

The C.C. Young Retirement Community in Dallas was adding a third residential facility, The Overlook, to their campus for those residents looking for a more independent lifestyle. The new building, with 108 housing units, “overlooks” Whiteroof-before-resize.jpg Rock Lake, downtown Dallas and C.C. Young’s Central Park, giving the residents a scenic view from their balconies. The premier retirement community provides residential and assisted living, memory care, nursing services, home health care, hospice, wellness, rehabilitation and educational programs to seniors and aging adults.

Chamberlin’s scope of work consisted of installing a 32,000 square foot, 60-mil TPO roofing system on the multi-leveled facility with three different roof areas receiving a garden roof totaling 8,000 square feet. Chamberlin’s goal on The Overlook was to install a quality roof system while keeping the noise level at a minimum for the people living nearby at C.C Young’s other two residential facilities.

Live-Roof-1-resize.jpgGarden Roof Installation
Installing a garden roof during one of the worst droughts in Texas’ history is a challenge in itself. The option chosen for the garden roof was a pre-vegetated system fully grown in module-style trays that are self-contained and ready for installation once they arrive at the desired location. The plants are grown off-site in order to get the proper care they need to mature and to ensure the garden is literally “green” immediately upon installation. This system makes for an easy installation because the only action needed is to set the modules in position and the roof is ready to enjoy. Other types of vegetative systems start with bags of soil and seeds which require ongoing maintenance until it is fully grown.

With the concrete roof deck in place, Chamberlin’s work began by preparing for the installation of the vegetative system. Above the deck, Chamberlin put a white TPO roof system in place with slip sheets layered on top to protect the roof from the plant trays. Ballast was put around the edges of the garden roof anpic-2-resize.jpgd mechanical equipment to serve as a walkway for maintenance personnel. An irrigation system was then installed around the perimeter of the green roof.

Chamberlin was given the challenging task of ensuring the plants stay healthy until the building was turned over to the owner. “The lack of rain and extreme temperatures made it one of the worst droughts in Dallas, and keeping the garden roof viable and looking its best until the irrigation system was a test of our green thumbs,” said Chad Morgan, Chamberlin senior roofing estimator. “We spent many hours after the installation watering the green roof by hand and monitoring the plants.”

Benefits of a Green Roof
A green or garden roof has many potential benefits for the building’s owner including an extended roof life and decreased cooling costs. The plants and soil used with the green roof act as a protective shield from the sun’s degrading UV rays, which can help to eliminate membrane cracks and resulting leaks. Most flat roofs begin to degrade after 10 to 15 years of use, but with a garden roof the potential life expectancy of the membrane can extend up to 40 years according to green roof manufacturers. The summers in Texas bring heavy heat and the green roof is a pic-3-resize.jpggreat, natural way to help reduce indoor temperatures for residents. The effect of the plants can actually help reduce indoor temperature six to eight degrees during hot weather which allows for ongoing cost savings and an initial reduction in the size of the required mechanical systems.

The garden roof also has many benefits for the building’s occupants. For instance, noise levels are reduced by the roof system, providing a calming and more comfortable atmosphere for the residents. Tests have indicated that green roofs can reduce indoor sound by as much as 40 decibels. Also, many of the units have balconies that face the garden roof, and studies have shown that natural views can help residents be healthier, happier and live a more relaxed lifestyle.

“Chad Morgan and the Chamberlin team did a great job of stepping up to make sure there were no issues and all work was performed correctly,” said JE Dunn Senior Project Manager, Matt Bernett. The project was completed on schedule and residents began moving in to the new facility in late 2011.

Monica Keels
(713) 880-1432
Author: Monica Keels
Phone: (713) 880-1432
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