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Science Matters: Green Roofs

Nestled into the riverbank along the James is the VCU Rice Rivers Center, the state’s first Platinum-rated LEEDS building, whose crowning glory is a green roof. Part of the roof is literally growing plants to help control rainwater runoff, insulate the building and blend with the environment.

Green roofs are not new, sod roofs in Scandinavia have been around for centuries and the Europeans have traditionally been ahead of Americans. But a Virginia Tech Professor recently shared some new information about them, at an international gathering in Germany.

The City of Richmond recently installed a couple of green roofs on its wastewater treatment plant and offers expedited building permits for anyone planning a green roof as part of its sustainability plan.

But perhaps the most spectacular green roof in the Richmond area is at the Rice Rivers Center. Catherine Bell, Director of Development at the Rice Rivers Center says the roof helps control runoff. There are other reasons as well - insulation, reduction in the heat island effect and durability.

Green roofs double the cost. But especially in cities, architects and planners and people who live there are learning that even a small patch of green is a sea of shingles is worth every penny.