As part of efforts to clean up the Danube River, the famous waterway is getting a new sewage treatment plant — and in one of those sustainability twofers we love so much, the gigantic structure will be capped with a 10,000-square meter green roof. The idea is that sewage treatment plants have enormous footprints, and without a roof all of that surface area is lost for other purposes. This makes green roofs an especially attractive investment for densely developed urban areas where open space is at a premium.
Green Roofs and Sewage Treatment Plants
A green roof is simply vegetation planted on specially designed rooftops. They can range from a light covering that needs practically no maintenance, to lushly planted gardens. Green roofs for sewage treatment plants have been around for a while, but due to their cost they are still relatively rare, especially here in the U.S. In one striking example, some greenery was planted as part of a state park built on the fully roofed North River treatment plant in New York City back in the 1980’s. However, the facility was designed for recreation, not necessarily to take full advantage of a green roof’s function, which is to absorb excess storm water and carbon dioxide. Green roofs also add a layer of protection to the conventional roofing materials below them, which extends the overall life of the roof.
Green Roof on the Living Danube
The new sewage treatment plant in Budapest is called the Living Danube. The designer chose DuPont Typar for the foundation, which is a polypropylene material that is water-permeable but does not retain water (therefore it cannot freeze, a key condition for green roofs in cold climates). The roof is expected to retain up to 90% of the stormwater that falls on it, while also helping to keep down dust and mute urban noise.
Green Roofs and the U.S. Military
Green roofs are becoming very common in Europe, partly due to their use in saving energy for heating and cooling buildings, but they are still exotic to the U.S. However, the U.S. military is beginning to adopt green roof technology, which will go a long way towards helping the U.S. public perceive green roofs as part of mainstream construction. One recent example is a green roof at the new visitor’s center at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. A naval facility in Norfolk has a new green roof, which among its advantages serves as an urban micro-habitat for wildlife. Peterson Air Force Base and Tobyhanna Army Depot are two other examples.
Image: Danube River by lyng883 on flickr.com.
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