New Sustainability Project Adds Green Space to Campus

A new green roof revitalizes the Village C esplanade

If you’ve strolled between Harbin and Village C recently, you may have noticed some changes. The Village C esplanade, situated above a street-level garage, now hosts a green roof!

The project is a recent initiative led by students working in the Office of Sustainability. It transforms an underutilized patio hardscape into a lush and engaging space for students to study and relax. Featuring a solar-powered charger for mobile devices, the patio offers multiple amenities to its visitors including new picnic tables and plantings.

Beyond the aesthetic and student life benefits, green roofs provide numerous environmental benefits. They improve stormwater retention, an important function in the District of Columbia that helps solve urban runoff challenges. The native plant species covering the roof create habitat for a range of bird and insect species. (If you take a seat on one of the new picnic tables on the patio, you’re sure to see a bird or two poking around in the grasses for a snack!) Green roofs also provide insulation from heat and cold for the building below, regulating temperature to reduce heating and cooling costs. And the plants protect roofing materials from the elements, extending a roof’s lifespan.

The student-driven initiative, fondly called “Georgetown’s Backyard,” began in the spring of 2015 when a team of interns with the Office of Sustainability received seed funding from the Georgetown Sustainable Campus Fund, sponsored by Coca Cola. The grant enabled them to assess viable sites for a new green roof on Georgetown’s campus.

From there, the students worked in close collaboration with the Office of Planning and Facilities Management and other campus partners. They led the process of requesting internal approvals, identifying vendors and contractors, collaborating on site design, securing funding, and helping to coordinate the final installation. The team opted to use LiveRoof green roof technology installed by Champion Landscape. The project was generously sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company and Georgetown’s Student Activities Commission.

The patio isn’t Georgetown’s only green roof -- the new North East Triangle residence hall and Thompson Athletic Center also incorporate green roofs as part of their LEED green design. And with the rain gardens at the bus turnaround and Healy Family Student Center, a new green courtyard at Ryan and Freedom Halls and the permeable pavement on Library Walk, Georgetown continues to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable campus in our built environment.

- Guest blog post by Cassidy Gasteiger, Office of Sustainability Intern