Thursday, December 3, 2009

Case Study: University of Maryland, Baltimore BioPark

Above: Building I at University of Maryland Baltimore Research Park, Baltimore, Maryland. The Ayers Saint Gross designed building attained LEED-NC Silver rating. Copyright: Ayers Saint Gross

By Jill Bellenger, CPH | Associate ASLA

No two buildings are created equal, as is the case in two seemingly alike research buildings residing at the University of Maryland Baltimore BioPark. Building I, completed in 2005, and Building II, completed in 2007, are both part of a six building biotechnology facility located in downtown Baltimore, MD.

Both are state of the art facilities upholding the LEED Silver level of green building certification. But the difference can be found seven stories up, where 70% of Building I's roof is covered in a lush carpet of multicolored sedums, doing their part to soak up rainwater and in effect remarkably reduce the amount of the building's stormwater structures on the ground.

Maryland based architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross was the architect-of-record for Building I, and as Project Architect Robert Claiborne describes, "a green roof is adding more pervious land to your project. By being vegetated, it also returns some captured rainwater back to the atmosphere via evapotranspiration instead of sending it through a pipe."

The EPA estimates that proper implementation of a green roof will effectively remove an average of 50% of a roof's annual rainfall volume, by way of retention and evapotranspiration. That constitutes a huge savings when calculated into the overall stormwater system design as well as the building's utility fees. Having a green roof also helps lower the amount of heat island effect the building would capture resulting in lower energy demand on cooling load. There are cases where green roofs lower the rooftop temperatures as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These are results we can all use in such a strained economy.

Aside from being virtually maintenance-free by design, Building I's type, called an extensive green roof, leans toward the less expensive side of the cost spectrum. An added bonus, just by simply laying out its 4 inches of growth medium over the building's membrane roof, Claiborne says, "you will also get some added life to the roof." Want a natural way to protect a roof membrane from extreme climates and UV damage as well as almost double the life of the membrane? This is the way to do it.

Building manager Brendan McHugh with Colliers Pinkard explains "we have few problems with our green roof, probably fewer problems than a traditional roof. We also get a lot of positive publicity from it. People always want to see it when they hear about it. So, it's great from a public relations point of view."

For more information on the UMB Research Building I, check out:

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