Within Howlett Hall you can find multiple offices, labs and classrooms, but the roof is home to 7,000 perennial plants with winding accessible paths. The Green Roof was established in 2013 and is the first of its kind on The Ohio State University's Columbus Campus. This 12,000-square-foot expanse is open to the public for tours throughout the week or as a quiet spot to enjoy a retreat from the hustle and bustle of midwest campus life.
So what exactly is a green roof? Simply put, a green roof is a living, breathing vegetated cover over a built structure. There are two main classifications when discussing green roofs: extensive and intensive. The differentiation is primarily in the depth of the growing media. Extensive green roofs are lighter weight and typically less expensive, but have limitations in planting design. Intensive green roofs are heavier and therefore suitable for structures with a strong load-bearing capacity. The depth of growing media on an intensive green roof ranges from 6–18 inches and therefore offers a broader palette for design and plant selection, but it costs more than an extensive roof. Howlett's green roof is an extensive roof.
What did it take for CFAES to get a green roof? The green roof was made possible by many individuals but notably the work of now CFAES Alumna Megan Welsh-Meier stands out. As a Construction Systems Management undergraduate student, Megan wrote an EPA grant that brought in $121,000 for the project. Along with Megan's grant, donors were also engaged to raise a total of $400,000 to make the Green Roof a reality. Those funds went towards not only the physical Green Roof, but also towards the design and safety features of the roof. The physical installation of the Green Roof took 14 days in total to establish the ground cover and to introduce the plants to their new home.
The Green Roof at Howlett Hall Green Roof is a beacon of sustainability and clean energy for OSU and as the seasons roll it continues to display what horticulture and engineering can do to improve the spaces around us. To read more on the Howlett Green Roof click here!