By Taylor Smith
Back in the middle of 2013, Howlett Hall got a new addition to its roof. This 12,000 square foot roof top garden is the first ever on The Ohio State’s University campus. Howlett Hall is located on west campus at The Ohio State University and is home to the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and the Department of Food Science and Technology. Therefore, it is only fitting that the university’s first ever green roof is located on this building.
The idea of the green roof all started in 1967 when Howlett Hall was first built. There was always a hope to someday have a rooftop garden on the building, so when the building was first constructed, it was designed to hold the additional load of the green roof. However, the completion of the green roof did not happen until 46 years later, in September of 2013, when the rooftop garden was finally complete. In the years prior to that, beginning in 2004 research was done, and funding for the green roof was raised to finally reach the dream of having a rooftop garden on Howlett Hall.
For the design of the green roof, there was a statewide design charrette where six designs were chosen for the rooftop garden. NBBJ, an architecture firm out of Columbus was chosen to work on the green roof, as well as CTL Engineering, a full service engineering, testing and inspection company out of Columbus as well. John Woods and Ed Michelson who are landscape architects from NBBJ specifically worked on this project.
On the green roof, there are about 11-13 different types of sedum that make up about half of the growing space on the green roof. Sedum is type of plant that comes in many varieties and is low maintenance, tolerates dry soil, and attracts butterflies. The other half consists of 7225 perennial plants such as black eyed susan, thyme, lavender, blue fescue, and prairie drop seed.
The green roof is beneficial to the environment in many ways, one of them being helping the mitigation of 60% of the water that falls on it, compared to the surrounding surfaces areas, specifically parking lots. When it rains, the water is not able to percolate back into the ground when it lands on parking lots, or even buildings. The green roof allows the water to be filtered first before draining into the Olentangy River, resulting in a cleaner environment. This green roof reduces the impact of polluted water into the Olentangy River. The roof garden also increases green space and biodiversity is an urban setting, lessens the “urban heat island” by cooling the air around it, adds insulation to the building, and adds property value to the building.
In addition to having the green roof, Howlett Hall is also home to bee hives. The plants on the green roof help the bees pollinate with close proximity. These two organisms work in a beneficial relationship to each other.
Green roofs like this one are popping up all over, especially in dense urban environments. They offer many benefits to the environment and community which is why they are such a popular addition to buildings these days. The Howlett Hall Green Roof offers a great example of what some planning, fundraising, and hard work can become to help the environment.
“Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens.” Green Roof on Howlett Hall. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
“National Gardening Association.” Plant Care Guides ::. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.