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Greenroofed Sam Nunn Federal Center Dedicated in Atlanta!

on June 18, 2012 at 10:56 am under

Operated by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center serves as the home of several federal agencies and is one of Atlanta’s most environmentally friendly facilities.

As you may know, the mission of the GSA is:

“…to use expertise to provide innovative solutions for our customers in support of their missions, and by so doing, foster an effective, sustainable, and transparent government for the American people.”

And, the GSA vision:

“Positions the government to be ever adapting its work environments, tools, and processes so as to better serve the public. The GSA uses the notion of “the future workplace” to express and visualize this evolution for its customers.

Is fueled by two powerful sparks for change, namely sustainability and transparency. The former is a doctrine for managing resources with utmost care and an obsession with “no waste.” The latter is a doctrine for inviting our collective intelligence and wisdom to our work.”

Over the past two years, the GSA Region 4 has installed about 25 greenroofs.  And in 2010-2011 the GSA replaced the roofs of three Georgia federal buildings with vegetative roofs.  And we all know how these roofs will help the buildings mitigate their footprints by absorbing rainwater and minimizing runoff to the sewer system, and reducing heat absorption, thereby lowering air conditioning costs.  In addition, the materials used for these projects were environmentally friendly by minimizing or omitting petroleum in their manufacture.

Two of these formerly barren roofs are located on the very green Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, whose Green Roof Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held on May 31, 2012 presented by the GSA, Michael E. Clark & Associates, the Design Build Team of National Building Contractors, and Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance.

Aramis and I had the pleasure of attending the presentation and dedication as well as spending the morning with Tremco Vegetated Roofing Program Development Manager and Horticulturalist (and friend) Mary Ann Uhlmann, who designed the vegetative portions of the roofs.

Built in 1924, these two newly greened roofs sit atop the 10-story Midrise and the restored 6-story Rich’s Department Store portion of the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, respectively.

Utilizing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the $2.6 million project renovation’s goals, consistent with the GSA’s roofing program, were to provide thermal and moisture protection; conserve energy and the environment; reduce utility costs; and help attain energy security by meeting Energy Independence and Security Act requirements.  The project meets Sustainability Executive Order 13514.

GSA’s Gail Gordon welcomed about 200 of us in attendance in the beautiful (and very secure), marble lobby of the Sam Nunn Federal Center in downtown Atlanta, and then GSA Regional Administrator Shyam Reddy addressed how the many benefits the greenroofs have added to the already green center, including deferred maintenance.

He spoke about responsible government and the benefits of working with a city like Atlanta in a collaborative way to reduce stormwater runoff, create local jobs, enable the GSA to out compete competitors, and leverage federal money.

Mr. Reddy continued and commented that in a era of trying to provide a clean energy economy as well as preserving national energy and climate security, this green building is symbolic to ensuring a brighter and cleaner future for everyone.  And overall, this can have a tremendous impact on development.  By the way, President Obama has asked the GSA to serve on his Green Team, leading the country to a zero real estate footprint policy.

GSA architect and technical representative Steve Moore followed with a quick presentation on some of the technical aspects of the roofing issues, and Tremco’s Senior Sales Consultant Jim  Lohmann, RRC, RRO, CDT, GRP rounded out the technical and sustainability explanations involved with the various roofing recycling and additions for which Tremco was responsible.

In testing the roofs’ structural integrity, it was determined that part of the Rich’s portion could not support a vegetated roof and a white 60 mil Tremco “Cool Roof” was installed adjacent to the large greenroof:

Tremco had an information booth here and after the presentation, many people visited to learn more about vegetated roofing options.

Steve and fellow GSA architect Roland Royster were our tour guides up on the former Rich’s Department Store greenroof, where the actual greenroof ribbon-cutting was held.

We did not go up to the Midrise greenroof because of logistics.  Here are some before and after shots of the Midrise from Jim Lohmann:

I also got a personal tour from Mary Ann Uhlmann, who showed me around the different planting areas of the large roof.  Here you can see her in a bed of native cacti:

Scott McGaughy of Greenrise Technologies (formerly Landscape Support Services), who installed and maintains the vegetated roofs, joined us and added lots of great information.  He said that although the GSA did not want irrigation initially, he recently added some to the project for extreme times.  Here we came across a very active grasshopper amidst the succulents:

In this area, Mary Ann has set aside one area of the greenroof that she uses for testing new plants as well as propagating them:

The Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center has been recognized in our industry already. In 2011 the project received the inaugural RoofPoint™ Award from the Center of Environmental Innovation in Roofing (CEIR) for “Excellence in Life Cycle Management,” distinguished by its efficient re-use of original roofing materials.

Congratulations to the GSA and another successful renovation project!

Read more about the many people involved with the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center in the Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database, and for any vegetated roof-related questions, please contact Mary Ann Uhlmann at:

Happy Greening,

~ Linda V.