Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Seattle's Big Green

Portland has financial incentives, FAR bonuses, and saavy public agencies that promote green roofs. Seattle, has the Gates Foundation. Fueled by massive amounts of capital that has done amazing good around the world - and turns this trend towards their home base in the construction of one of Seattle's largest green roofs atop the parking garage of their new structure. Katie Zemtseff, a friend here at L+U and author of the Seattle DJC Green Building Blog, recently posted some pics and words of the project as a follow-up to her previous story about the project.

:: images via DJC Green Building Blog

While the track record of roofs in Seattle has been spotty, this project looks to utilize a vegetated mat system atop 5 inches of growing media. So to say it was 'designed' is a stretch, but perhaps this will eliminate some of the failure issues from previous rooftops, which had a bit of problems getting established. The issues and lack of incentives have made slow going for projects up north, as mentioned in the DJC: "Green roofs have not proliferated in Seattle as they have in Chicago, where there are more than 250, or in Portland, where the city has a green roof grant program. Nichol said some Seattle building owners may have been intimidated by the cost and green roof failures. Often in King County, she said, green roofs fail due to weeds."

:: images via DJC Green Building Blog

To clarify though - green roofs don't fail due to weeds. They fail due to shitty design and bad maintenance. But alas, that's a story for another day - and one that looks to be avoided on this project. While the vegetated mats and 60,000 sf area probably added up to a pretty substantial price-tag - the benefits are still worth it. The project is also unique in being visible from both the ground, as well as the adjacent Space Needle (seen looming in the distance)... so it looks like the view from on ground and high above Seattle is looking a bit more green from there.

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