The green roof on a LEED-Platinum University of California dormitory in San Diego is the first of its kind for the state's university system and one of just a few commercial installations in the entire state.
Home to more than 4,000 drought-tolerant succulents, flowering plants and low-spreading shrubs, the green roof reduces heating and cooling costs for the 158,000-square-foot, 500-bed building. It also serves as a wildlife habitat and a pedestrian walkway between several of the towers.
The roof captures stormwater, which irrigates the gardens and is funneled into an on-site water reclamation facility - where all of the site's water is collected and reused in the laundry, sinks and showers.
"We have zero water demand for any irrigation on site," Martin Poirier, the principal landscape architect told a local newspaper. "UCSD challenged us to experiment with the campus, to use the campus as a research tool. We took it to heart, so you're seeing really cutting-edge techniques as far as stormwater capture."
The roof presented a number of design challenges. A barrier was installed to ensure that roots wouldn't grow into the building below, and a moisture mat was added for additional protection and to ensure the soil doesn't dry out too quickly. Architects also added aluminum planters, and drip and drainage systems.
As does all new housing built at University of California/ San Diego, it also has solar, extensive natural ventilation, and recycled building materials.
The world's largest green roof grows atop a parking garage in Chicago, which boasts more green roofs than any other US city.