Integrating a Commercial Rooftop Garden as a LEED Certification

Rooftop Garden

If you've been paying any attention the past few years, you've been hearing more and more about LEED building certification, which provides acknowledgement of a structure's reduced environmental impact. One area that many contractors and architects fail to consider is the building's roof. By installing a green roof on top of your commercial building, you can provide a beautiful place for employees to hang out and enjoy nature while racking up a large number of LEED certification points in one fell swoop. Here are the details on how a commercial rooftop garden can earn significant LEED points.

Site Development

This section of the standard has a couple areas where a green roof can gain you points. It qualifies as protecting or restoring habitat, provided that you use native or adapted plants which require minimal or no irrigation and avoids active maintenance. It also qualifies as maximizing open spaces as the green roof will contribute towards this credit.

Storm Water Design

Because green roofs hold rainwater in the soil, they contribute towards controlling the quantity of water that runs off from your structure by minimizing impervious surfaces.

Heat Island Effect

A green roof helps reduce the amount of heat that is absorbed on the roof's surface, which both keeps the building itself cooler as well as reducing the heat island effect and pollutant loading. To gain this credit, you need to use at least half the roof as a green roof.

Water Efficiency

You can gain several points in this area. If you don't include permanent irrigation, you can really gain ground though using more efficient irrigation by using grey water or drip irrigation for plants that must have it.Drip Irrigation Using grey water helps you with the site development credit, as the water will then contain some nutrients the plants need in place of fertilizer inputs. To get two points on this credit, you'll need to reduce potable water irrigation by at least 50%, and you can gain all four by using native or adapted plants that don't require irrigation after 12-18 months of establishment. If you use grey water for all your irrigation needs, plant natives that require 50% less water and have reduced potable water usage completely, you can gain a whopping six points just in this category.

Energy Optimization

A green roof contributes towards minimum energy performance, and you can earn credits by optimizing performance through the use of a green roof. By documenting how much energy will be saved in terms of a percentage versus a baseline performance rating, you can gain additional points for energy optimization.

Materials & Resources

Reuse of materials can gain you a few points, at least 5-10% of the cost, and can involve reusing rubber mulches, wood for structures on your green roof and virtually any other area they can be worked in. Recycled content also comes into play here, with many items available for your garden that contain recycled material, with 10-20% of the cost of material from the project containing recycled material. The number of points will depend on the percentage of reused or recycled material in your project.

Yet another area to consider for materials and resources is using local or regional materials in your commercial rooftop garden. If you can source 10-20% of the materials from within 500 miles, such as compost, soil, plants, mulch and other easily located materials, you have the option of gaining a few more points based on the overall percentage of materials that are locally sourced.

By taking a green roof into consideration in your building design, you can quickly reap the benefits. If you need help finding the perfect materials for your rooftop garden, we're available to help.

PS - Contractors, if you're interested in LEED Certification be sure to download our free guide: How to Become a LEED Accredited Professional BD+C Contractor below. It gives you a clear, step-by-step walk through of the certification process!

LEED Accredited Professional BD+C Contractor Guide

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.