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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : May/June 2007 : Case Study

Leading by Example
One Virginia-based architectural firm is improving its all-around performance with the installation of a green roof at its headquarters.

special to green@work

The architectural firm of Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas and Company (HEWV), located in Norfolk, Va., resides in a four-story building with historical significance in the rejuvenated downtown area. The building presented a few logistical challenges and engineering concerns. The existing wood-frame structure presented dead load limitations on its ability to support a green roof. This could only be overcome by using a lightweight system. Dan Bauserman, AIA, of HEWV selected the EnviroTech Green Roof System from Virginia Beach, Va.-based Building Logics, Inc.

The 4,500-square-foot roof project cost about $80,000 and was partially funded with a grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Friends of the Norfolk Environment, a nonprofit group, sponsored the grant, which was provided to assist the efforts of cleaning the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay. The architectural firm, which prides itself as a firm with a passion for the environment, decided on the green roof to lead by example.

The green roof is being labeled as the first environmentally friendly roof in Hampton Roads. It was designed to reduce and improve stormwater runoff quantity and quality, reduce cooling costs, reduce heat island effect, improve air quality and extend the life of the roof. Additional marketing benefits have been realized by the firm relative to potential clients visiting the roof. Several regional governments and organizations, as well as the U.S. military and private corporations have toured and attended seminars about the roof. The pride of ownership of HEWV’s employees has also been an encouragement to the organization. Green roofs are routinely credited with improving employee performance.

The project involved removal of the existing gravel-surfaced built-up roof down to the wood deck. New insulation was installed to provide greater energy efficiency. The mechanically attached insulation was then covered with a gypsum-board thermal barrier. The German-designed EnviroTech green roof membrane was then installed. The two-ply APAO-modified bitumen roof membrane system was designed specifically for green roof applications, and surpasses the requirements of the internationally recognized FLL Guidelines. While providing the waterproofing for the system, the membrane also incorporates an integral root barrier, water retention system and drainage layer in one application. This system simplifies the installation process and is the only system that allows all of the components to be attached to the building structure, including the plants. The roof membrane was then covered with a geo-textile filter fabric, an engineered soil (growing media), and sedum vegetation. While the EnviroTech system can be installed on slopes up to 45 degrees, the structure provided a slope of about 10 degrees.

The diverse pallet of Sedum plants selected for the roof are all native to the area, are frost- and drought-tolerant, and provide a variety of colors and texture. Several of the plants will cover the roof with a canopy of flowers in the spring and fall. Maintenance on the roof is very minimal, and after the plants mature to full coverage will provide an almost maintenance-free roof system. During Earth Week in April, several of the employees had a roof-top maintenance party to remove a few weeds that had sprung over the past year.

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