WINONA LAKE — The Dr. Dane A. Miller Science Complex, located on Grace College’s campus, is now home to a lush array of succulent plants, including sedum and allium varieties – but these thirsty and cold-hardy plants are not in the landscaping; they are on the roof.
The green roof at Grace College is innovative and eco-friendly, designed to conserve water, trap heat and prevent storm runoff, among other benefits. The rooftop garden also adds an element of beauty to the architecture of the science complex. It covers over 1,000 square feet of roof area and holds up to 20 different types of succulent plant species.
“At the Lilly Center, we’re committed to protecting our county’s numerous lakes and streams,” said Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams. “You wouldn’t think a roof full of plants could further our mission, but it certainly does. The green roof works to protect the lakes, not to mention providing several economic benefits to Grace College.”
First, the green roof will collect and filter storm water. “Before rain leaves the roof and enters the lakes and streams, the plants in our green roof help remove pollutants,” Bosch said. “The roots act like a filter and sponge, pulling harmful materials from the water and allowing less water to runoff the roof,” he explained. As a bonus, the green roof will rarely need watered with a hose. The plants are hardy enough to survive cold and warm seasons in addition to dry and rainy seasons, Bosch added.
Second, the green roof will extend the life of the roof and help keep the science complex warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. “There could be as much as a 10 percent heating and cooling savings for Grace College for the classroom under the green roof,” Bosch said.
Third, the green roof does not contribute to the heat often produced by building and parking surfaces. The plants trap airborne dust and dirt before anyone breathes it in, effectively making the air cleaner.
The Lilly Center extends special thanks to Aramark, Earth Source, Grace College student and staff members, LiveRoof, Heartland Restoration Services and Carolyn and Kevan Johnston, all of whom gave their time and resources to accomplish the green roof project. Email [email protected] or call (574) 372-5100, ext. 6446 to learn more or schedule a visit to see the green roof and other new features in the Dr. Dane A. Miller Science Complex.