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U Iowa Grows a Green Roof

U Iowa Grows a Green Roof

The University of Iowa recently opened its new $126 million interdisciplinary biomedical research center, which sports what it claims is a first for the state: a green roof. The 6,440 square-feet of rooftop on the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building will feature soil six inches deep with green plantings. This rooftop greenery is intended to reduce rainfall runoff, filter water, reduce energy used on the interior for heating and cooling and prolong the life of the roofing materials. Runoff reduction is particularly important to the university, which lost several structures in a 2008 flood.

The facility, which is pursuing gold LEED certification, will include multiple microclimates to accommodate a variety of plantings, according to coverage in the Daily Iowan. Also, because portions of the roof can be seen from many of the building's offices, the green will provide a visual break for occupants.

Among the operations in the center will be six floors of research labs and a mix of wet and dry labs. Among the major areas of research will be diabetes, cardiovascular, auditory, lung biology and biomedical imaging. One level will contain the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging, with several MRIs.

The pre-grown plantings come from Roof Top Sedums, an Iowa company that has also provided the greenery for a roof at the University of Missouri Patient Care Tower, a Kansas State University roof, and a roof at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

U Iowa will be growing an ever bigger rooftop garden system as part of the construction for a new art building, replacing one damaged in the flood. That building is expected to be opened in May 2016.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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