5 Things to Know About Bethel’s Green Roof

The green roof of Bethel is mostly out of sight over Brushaber Commons. The space may be modest, but it has a number of benefits, including research opportunities, isolation and environmental support for the surrounding wildlife area. “All we can do to build sustainably is to help care for God’s creation,” said Amy Dykstra, professor of biological sciences.

The green roof was constructed in 2009 during the construction of Brushaber Commons, made possible by donations from donors during Bethel’s latest capital campaign. Green roofs offer a sustainable alternative to regular roofing materials, as they absorb moisture that falls instead of allowing it to drain into storm drains. It is one of Bethel’s many enduring practices designed to care for creation. Read on to get a closer look at the green roof and its impact on the Bethel Campus.

1. Creating the green roof of Bethel protected the natural areas after the construction of Brushaber Commons.

Bethel is located in the Rice Creek Watershed District, which means that construction projects must meet certain requirements to protect the natural areas. The university has chosen to partially meet these requirements by creating the 3,780 square meter green roof with 15 different types of sedum, a variety of succulent plants. The green roof replaces some of the natural land and soil lost during the construction of Brushaber Commons. It was designed by LiveRoof design and installed by Mickman Brothers. Green roofs are a relatively new concept to the United States, but have been used by other countries for many years. Modern green roofs were developed by Germany in the 1960s and from there spread to other countries.

2. Green roofs offer several “green” benefits.

Green roofs provide insulation against heat, UV radiation and noise. They reduce air pollutants, enhance aesthetics, support biodiversity and extend the life of the roof by protecting it from ultraviolet rays. They also help prevent stormwater runoff. When rainwater runs off a building, it is no longer absorbed by the ground and can lead to flooding and pollution. When the water is absorbed into the soil, it is filtered. However, if it spills out onto the street, the pollutants can end up in nearby bodies of water.

3. The green roof is relatively low maintenance.

There are two types of green roofs: extensive and intensive. Bethel has an extensive green roof, which means it is inexpensive and low maintenance. Josh Gerth, site manager, says maintenance includes weeding, seasonal mowing, fertilization, irrigation (watering) and replanting. Intensive roofs would also contain things like trees and shrubs and be much heavier.

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