“Thousands of years ago, the idea of using sod on the roof of a building was very common because it provided insulation,” says Mic Johnson, design principal with AECOM.
Today, green roofs are shown to benefit our environment. While continuing to serve as building insulators, they also absorb rain water rather than run-off through storm sewers and ultimately reaching rivers and streams. , In addition, a green roof is less reflective than a traditional roof, helping reduce the “heat island effect,” where more densely built-up and populated areas are hotter than nearby rural areas, due in part to heat that is reflected back into the atmosphere by traditional roofs. Rain water is absorbed by the roots of plants and evaporated through their leaves, thereby cooling the air temperature.
“Green roofs are popular in both urban and suburban areas because they provide adjacent outdoor spaces that support indoor activities,” adds Mic. “In many cases, larger outdoor space in those settings has not been an option. Green roofs are becoming much more common and allow people to enjoy both the indoors and outdoors in a seamless experience. This design strategy is also helping to lessen the effects of climate change.”
In terms of hospitals, green roofs are a natural addition to the facility’s healing environment.
“For our new hospital, we wanted to provide our patients with a serene, calming environment to help with their healing process,” says Michael Stephens, President and Market Leader, Mercy Health – West Market. “We designed the hospital with larger, more expansive windows to allow for more natural light. The design lent itself to views of various roof tops, so it seemed only natural to make those green roofs.”
Nearly two-thirds of the hospital’s roof footprint will be green roof and include an assortment of drought-resistant grasses, plants and flowers that are native to southwest Ohio. A gentle breeze through the grasses will create a swirl effect while the flowers offer bursts of colors and textures: bright oranges, yellows, lavenders in spring and summer; and muted yellows, burgundies and browns in the fall and winter.
“The green roofs of Mercy Health – West Hospital should almost look like an extension of Mt. Airy Forest,” adds Mic.
Patient, visitors, employees and physicians can enjoy this “extension” in several areas on the hospital campus. Just outside the cafeteria will be a terrace for outdoor dining with access to a garden area. The chapel and main entrance will provide access to a healing garden and labyrinth, ideal for reflection and meditation.
Mercy Health – West Hospital is scheduled to open in October 2013.