HMFH Architects

Green Roofs Expand Minds and Opportunities

In an article published in Spaces4Learning, HMFH Senior Associate and Sustainability Leader Gary Brock breaks down the many different uses and benefits of green roofs, from improving building energy performance to increased biodiversity. Beyond environmental benefits, Gary elaborates on the unique value and opportunities green roofs can provide a community, using three HMFH schools from a diverse group of districts as precedents.

As a practitioner of sustainable design promoting the responsible use and conservation of natural resources, HMFH has had opportunities to leverage this expertise by helping three Massachusetts schools—Saugus Middle High School, Josiah Quincy Upper School, and Bristol County Agricultural High School—make smart decisions that reduced energy and water use and enhanced learning while supporting the health and wellbeing of all users. Each school had different reasons for choosing green roofs.

Saugus Middle High School in Saugus, Mass., sited less than 300 feet from a busy six-lane highway, supports progressive education in grades 6 to 12. … Inspired by the Saugus River’s fundamental role in the town’s history, the new school incorporates … a stormwater collection and reuse system combined with the green roof that slows stormwater runoff, saving more than 1.5 million gallons of water annually. … In tandem with the environmental benefits, the 12,700-square-foot third-floor green roof provides program space for science curriculum-based learning, yoga, and mindfulness classes.

Currently under construction, the $146.8-million Josiah Quincy Upper School in Boston is a 175,000-square-foot, six-story facility that will accommodate 650 students in grades 6 through 12. Because no other outdoor space was possible on the site, a large portion of the roof will serve as an outdoor classroom and physical activity area featuring walking paths and native species gardens. An added benefit of the roof garden is the access to fresher air high above street level, while the plants also actively remove pollutants from the air.

Located in Dighton, 45 miles south of Boston, Bristol County Agricultural High School is designed as a teaching tool: the campus is a classroom, the site is an arboretum, and sustainable design elements encourage important conversations about carbon and land use. The Center for Science and the Environment (CSE) … supports a range of spaces including … two different types of vegetative green roofs. The roofs are part of the core curriculum, providing student research opportunities on stormwater runoff, water conservation, biodiversity, and habitat preservation, and allowing student participation in green-roof installation and maintenance activities.”

Read the full article here for further insight into the many benefits and opportunities green roofs can bring to a building project.