Green roof project will provide streaming data for students

Tom Van Denend, owner of ShelterWorks, helps students assemble recycled material building blocks to form shed walls. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Faculty and students at Oregon State are taking a simple problem of storage and turning it into a learning opportunity. On Wednesday, May 19, they built a 6’ by 10’ shed to the south of the Ag and Life Science Building to provide storage for horticulture and crop and soil science students to store their field equipment. But beyond its practical applications, the shed will also have a green roof, that is, a living vegetative roof that provides a variety of benefits, from keeping the building warm to reducing storm water runoff.

Currently the only green roof on campus is a greenroof array used for research at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture, on 35th Street. Classes are taken to the center to view the green roof demonstration there. The storage shed’s roof will offer students a second opportunity to view a green roof, only a few yards from the Agricultural Life Sciences building where most of them attend class.

“Nearly 60 students an hour and countless citizens during game days pass by this facility,” said James Cassidy, research assistant and instructor in the department of crop and soil science. “Its location in the core of the campus allows for tremendous passive learning opportunities.”

The shed’s green roof will be equipped with sensors to monitor a variety of factors, including reduction in storm water and annual rainfall patterns. Cassidy said the data collected can be used for a variety of class exercises. The data collected will be available in a live data stream on the horticulture and crop and soil science websites.

The shed is being built as a project by students in a landscape construction course taught by Al Shay, an instructor in the department of horticulture.

Al Shay, an instructor in the department of horticulture, leads a team of students taking a landscape construction course. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

“Longer term, we expect that the construction class as well as the Horticulture Club would gain valuable experience and insight by maintaining the green roof and monitoring plant survival and growth,” Cassidy said.

Faculty involved in the project hope the green roof idea gains in popularity on campus, encouraging the spread of green roof technology on new and existing buildings.

Building materials have been donated by ShelterWorks, a Philomath company that uses wood waste and cement to make building blocks. Green roof materials were donated by Bioroof Systems, and Sprick Roofing of Corvallis. Foundation materials were donated by Ron Hall Concrete of Corvallis.

~ Theresa Hogue

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