GPW: Breaking Ground Contracting Green Roof & Rooftop Garden

July 3, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: 6/27/11
Breaking Ground Contracting
Green Roof & Rooftop Garden

Jacksonville, FL, USA
1,400 sf. Greenroof

Year: 2011
Owner: Breaking Ground Contracting
Location: Jacksonville, FL, USA
Building Type: Corporate
Type: Extensive, Test/Research
System: Custom
Size: 1,400 sq.ft.  
Slope: 100%
Access: Accessible, By Appointment

Project Description & Details

The purpose of Breaking Ground Contracting’s living roof is an ongoing sustainability statement through support of wildlife biodiversity, affording economic development, offering educational opportunities to a broad range of people and providing a healthy, organic food alternative in the Urban Core.  The green roof project is part of a LEED registered project through Green Building Certification Institute and is currently on track for LEED Platinum certification.  It is also the first green roof in Florida to incorporate native plants, rooftop permaculture and Florida-friendly landscaping.

Breaking Ground’s green roof is comprised of three main component ecosystems, including native wildflowers, shrubs, small trees and an intense permaculture food and herb garden.  In addition to the green roof, this project also incorporates a 10kW photovoltaic (electric) solar system, a solar thermal (hot water) system, living walls, a rain garden, low and no VOC interior paints and finishes, extensive reuse of materials from the demolition of the original building, high efficiency HVAC system with individual occupant controls, outside views for all occupants, and much more. The system is irrigated with condensate from the HVAC units and is designed using hurricane simulator tested components.


Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Green Roof Designer: Kevin Songer, MetroVerde
Greenwall Installation: Jimmy Sterling, C. Sterling Quality Roofing
Solar Photovoltaic System Design & Installation: Sun Works Solar
Waterproofing: Firestone ReflexEON TPO
Drainage: Colbond

Additional Info

Breaking Ground Education Services provides a variety of training sessions, consulting services, seminars, workshops and presentations on sustainability and safety with a focus on green and LEED building and Green Advantage ® training, as well as OSHA safety and NCCER instructor and core training.  So it’s obvious they have a healthy respect for the environment, and showed leadership by installing so many sustainable features here, including the beautiful greenroof.

Kevin Songer of MertroVerde has been involved with the Breaking Ground Contracting Green Roof & Rooftop Garden  from the start and felt it needed to serve as an important model for the Jacksonville, FL community and beyond.  Yet, because of its coastal location, it also need careful design considerations for not only the correct growing media and plant selection, but perhaps more importantly, resilience to hurricane winds.  In fact, Kevin spent last three years working with both the Ag Engineering and Civil Engineering departments at the University of Florida on hurricane testing.

Both he and Catherine Burkee author the Breaking Ground Green Roof Blog, which is full of some really great information and commentary plus plant and animal biodiversity research.  For example, Catherine writes about the visiting  Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica), below, just one of the many pollinators who seem to enjoy the festival of flowers and plants on the Breaking Ground green roof in Jacksonville, FL and also the Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridan) as one of the “new critters arriving daily.”

Kevin creates videos and a contributes informational blog posts on Breaking Ground Green Roof, including about their great variety of vegetables. Corn, peas, peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes and butternut squash are just a few of the edible plants found here.  He believes roofs are the new frontier for agriculture in the State of Florida and in urban areas across the world.

Kevin says the average growing media depth is 50-60mm only, about 2 inches or so – it goes from 1 inch to 3 or 4 inches in spots – across the entire roof.  Can you believe they grow corn in just a few inches?  Check out some of the veggies:

There’s simply too much to mention here, but there is an area on the blog for students and teachers, too.

At the end of May Kevin finished inventorying the Breaking Ground Contracting Green Roof.  The Plant List is divided into Family, Genus and Species; Breaking Ground boasts 37 plant families represented, 84 genus represented and well over 100 species.

Kevin says,

“The breakdown is interesting.  There are five plant families comprising the bulk of the individual species.  The top five plant families used on the Breaking Ground Green Roof are;

  1. Asteraceae
  2. Solanaceae
  3. Poaceae
  4. Lamiaceae, and
  5. Fabaceae

Good green roof design for biodiversity support follows the 10-20-30 rule. The 10-20-30 rule specifies that no more than 10% of the green roof plants should come from any one plant Family, 20% from any one Genus and 30% from any one Species.  We have easily met and exceeded the 10-20-30 rule.”

He also feels that “Green roofs are always full of surprises.  Any given day you may see a variety of pollinators, reptiles and other wildlife.”  Such was the case as a Louis Philippe antique China rose – aka Cracker Rose was unexpectedly  found amidst  the mass of Echinacea, Bidens and Muhly grass:

“But even more surprising was how well it is growing and blooming there on the periphery of the green roof’s harshest southerly exposure, subject to hot, dry winds and  overwhelming  solar heat, Kevin writes.

Watch a lovely video of Kevin and the Breaking Ground Contracting Green Roof & Rooftop Garden  below:

Visit the Breaking Ground Green Roof Blog  here for much more, and check out the very cool Interactive, Educational Green Roof Plant Maps at Kevin’s  MetroVerde website where you can select the green roof area where you wish to study the plants growing and click for larger view:

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.