GPW: PECO Main Office Building

November 5, 2011 at 7:20 pm Project of the Week: 10/24/11
PECO Main Office Building
47,000 sf.  Greenroof

Year: 2008
Owner: PECO Energy
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Building Type: Corporate
Type: Extensive & Intensive
System: Other
Size: 47,000 sq. ft.
Slope: 1%
Access: Accessible, By Appointment
Google Maps: link
YouTube Video: link

Project Description & Details

Located on top of an eight-story section of the PECO (Philadelphia Electric Company) building, the rooftop garden holds growing media up to 8 inches thick; the greenroof development is part of the company’s recently-announced comprehensive environmental initiative with a range of programs over the next several years.

This retrofit project was established with low-maintenance pre-vegetated Sedum mats by Sempergreen over a specially formulated growing media. Because of the dead load restrictions, the extensive greenroof media was designed to be extra-lightweight. The Roofmeadow Type I extensive greenroof assembly weighs 17 psf when fully saturated. The cool green Sedum carpet is punctuated by pathways, lit seat walls and Roofmeadow Type III intensive native perennial beds located over zones with a higher dead load capacity. In partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, PECO co-sponsors public greenroof tours that attract architects, developers and engineers intent on learning more about vegetated assemblies.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Architect: William Craig, Architect and Re:Vision Architecture
Structural Engineer: Michael D. Pieroni, Robert E. Lamb, Inc.
Installation: Former Roofmeadow Network Contractor, Michael Furbish, Furbish Company, LLC
Vegetated Mat Provider: Sempergreen
Greenroof System: Roofmeadow Types I and III
Growing and Drainage Media: SkyGarden, Stancills, Inc.

Additional Info

Headquartered in Philadelphia,  PECO is an energy delivery subsidiary of Exelon Corporation and is the largest electric and natural gas utility in Pennsylvania, serving approximately 1.6 million electric customers and 490,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Approximately 90% of PECO’s customers are residential and the remaining 10% are commercial and industrial.

PECO is taking major steps to demonstrate its environmental leadership.  In 2008 PECO embarked on the first phase of a five-year major environmental initiative to preserve the environment and help customers become more environmentally responsible.

Along with other initiatives and policies, the company received ISO 14001 certification, the internationally recognized standard to help organizations minimize their  impact on the environment.  See the very informative video, “PECO’s Environmental Initiative” below which also has time lapse photography of the greenroof installation:


For example, in addition to the 47,000 sf greenroof  atop the Main Office Building headquarters – which was largest greenroof in the state of Pennsylvania on an existing building –  the PECO Crown Lights were updated with the installation of 2 million energy-efficient LEDs (light-emitting diodes) with color capacity, resulting in a 40% energy savings.

As the result of a centuries old combined sewer system, the city of Philadelphia is plagued with a serious water pollution problem.  The PECO Main Office Building sits on the densely developed Schuylkill River banks in the heart of Center City and the roof footprint is 95% of the lot area.

In an effort to solve the onerous CSO issue and comply with the Federal Clean Water Act, the city is incentivizing green infrastructure as a key solution, with the added advantage of providing additional environmental benefits for the adjacent cityscape.  Initiatives include  Green Cities, Clean Waters Plan,  Philadelphia’s 25-year plan to protect and enhance their watersheds by managing stormwater with innovative green infrastructure.

“The Philadelphia Water Department developed the Green City, Clean Waters plan to provide a clear pathway to a sustainable and resilient future while strengthening the utility, broadening its mission and complying with environmental laws and regulations.” ~ Green Cities, Clean Waters Plan

Shown below on the roof, Howard Neukrug is the Water Commissioner at the Philadelphia Water Department and the man behind the Green City, Clean Waters Plan:

The PECO green roof is under management with the  Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) which leads regular tours of the roof by appointment and on special  occasions.

“In order to safely accommodate guests, the roof area used for tours and gatherings is separated from the rest of the expanse by a self-ballasting, ADA compliant railing for pedestrian safety. The railing provides a secure barrier without requiring the attachment to the roof deck or penetration of the waterproofing membrane.” ~  Roofmeadow Case Study

The  43,000 square foot  extensive portion is unirrigated and was planted with drought resistant vegetation using 12 different species of Sedums.  The remaining  2,000 square foot  intensive portion is planted with perennials and ornamental grasses indigenous to Pennsylvania  and uses a partial base capillary irrigation system, providing moisture without losing any water into the atmosphere.

Due to weight concerns, the growing media is a specially formulated lightweight blend specified by Charlie Miller and the pre-vegetated mats were produced with the same blend by Sempergreen.  On site in Philadelphia, a second batch of extra lightweight media was distributed before the mats were unrolled. The growing and drainage media for the extensive areas and the intensive beds and planters were provided by SkyGarden.

“We made a very definite decision to choose plants that were drought resistant or drought tolerant.” ~ Liz Williamson of PECO in

The green roof has recovered from die back of some species during the hot, dry summer of 2010; the vegetative cover is now more diverse and vigorous than ever.  The Roofmeadow maintenance program is being followed and documented.

“Roofmeadow and PHS closely track the native plants to identify those that are best able to endure the harsh conditions of a windy, riverside rooftop.”  ~  Roofmeadow Case Study.  Download it here.

Along  with the City of Philadelphia, the PHS is co-hosting the upcoming 9th annual  Green Roofs for Healthy Cities 2011 CitiesAlive Green Roof & Wall Conference on November 30 – December 3 (read more about the Conference here).

Drew Beecher, president of PHS, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter were filmed for  this promotional video below  on top of the PECO greenroof – click to see:

The PECO  Main Office Building  greenroof will be included as part of the  CitiesAlive  Center Cities Tour and also will be the focus of a technical session, Session 5.  If you come to Philly for the CitiesAlive Conference, you must see this wonderful roof!  Aramis and I will definitely be on this tour.

Public outreach and education are very important to PECO – if you can’t make it for CitiesAlive, do call PECO when in town to set up a tour.  The PECO Main Office Building is located at 2301 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103  – visit their website here.

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.

Roofmeadow Creates Philly”™s First Bus Shelter Green Roof

July 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

First of all, you probably know by now that Roofscapes has changed its name to Roofmeadow, right?  Headed up by president and founder Charlie Miller, P.E. – one of our favorite people, and one of my very earliest mentors – Roofmeadow has been one of the trailblazers in our industry starting in the 1990’s and has provided much inspiration to many of us.

They’ve started a new blog, and you’ve got to check out their post about “Philly’s First Bus Shelter Green Roof.”   We first alerted you about it from a series of articles posted in NewsLinks:  Philadelphia Unrolls A “˜Green’ Roof On A SEPTA Bus Shelter, Waiting for the rain: Green-topped bus stop a first in Philly, and Green roofs: That bus stop shelter is only the beginning.

As part of its Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters plan, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) has commissioned Roofmeadow to create a deployable prefab bus shelter green roof kit.  With much fanfare, the first small but highly visible 60 sf prototype was installed at a bus shelter across the street from City Hall on June 15, 2011.

In fact, Mayor Michael Nutter, middle, launched the installation of the series and the event was very well publicized and attended.

“The bus shelter project will benefit the city by increasing Philadelphians’ familiarity with a new type of city greening.” ~ Charlie Miller, P.E.

Charlie’s son, Ari, designed the installation so it could be replicated as a “kit” for other bus stop roofs in the city.  Roofmeadow also has committed to maintaining the roof for its first two years.  Now it will receive regular watering, but after the first growing season the greenroof will not need to be watered.

In the photos below, you see Roofmeadow’s crew of Ari and Lauren on June 14 preparing to remove the existing bus shelter’s polycarbon”‹ate top and below it, the final green result!

“Much like a scaled down version of Roofmeadow’s 1.2 acre green roof on the PECO building, the bus shelter green roof was constructed using pre-grown mats. The mats are made up of drought tolerant succulents (primarily Sedum species) and allow for an instant cover of vegetation. You may also notice flowering Dianthus (also known as Sweet William or Wild carnation) and Portulaca poking through at two of the four corners where the growing media increases to 6.00 inches.” ~ Roofmeadow Blog

Signage will direct people to the Philadelphia Water Department’s Office of Watersheds “Green Roof Bus Shelter”  website with more information about things residents can do.

“We basically see this project as an opportunity to inspire homeowners. A lot of the green roofs that are really fabulous and gorgeous are on high-rises – invisible to most. We thought it would be fun to bring it down to eye level.” ~ Project Coordinator  Tiffany Ledesma Groll, Office of Watersheds (via

Roofmeadow has also put up a Picasa web album that shows the entire installation process as well as the unveiling last month, see them here.  Watch a cool video about the installation below:

These Roofmeadow designed kits can be put up around city bus shelters by others, too. What a nice way to celebrate your city – Happy 4th of July, Philadelphia and everyone!

~ Linda V.”™s “This Week in Review” on GreenroofsTV: June 3rd, 2011

June 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Each week you can expect to learn What’s New here on through our “This Week in Review” video.   Here’s the transcript from June 3, 2011 from our daughter, Anjuli –  click on the photo below to see the video, or here.   Enjoy!

– Hello, I’m Anjuli Velazquez and welcome to This Week in Review for June 3rd, 2011, on    GreenroofsTV.

–  Project of the Week

–   Our project of the week is the Southface Eco Office built in 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  After receiving its ENERGY STAR label and Platinum LEED certification in 2009, the Southface Eco Office officially opened with its beautiful rooftop greenroof.  The Turner Foundation Green Roof on top of the third floor expands the office space into a rooftop patio with a magnificent view of downtown Atlanta.  The growing media is about 4 inches deep, and was planted with a variety of Sedums, Delospermas, Talinums, and Hens and Chicks in March of 2008 by Southface staff and volunteers.  Some of the highlights of this greenroof include: Walkway squares made of recycled rubber which were salvaged from a nearby building project; Louisiana Pacific Weatherbest decking, which is a composite product made from HDPE plastic and post-industrial recycled wood, and, of course, the succulent plants that reduce the heat island effect, as well as manage stormwater run-off by filtering and diverting water to the site cistern.

–  To learn more about the Southface Eco Office  greenroof, click on our project of the week photo on our homepage.

What’s New“

–  Advertiser Press Releases:

–   Skyland USA – rooflite ® Announces Ryan Paxton as the New CRM Program Director.

–  Bison Innovative Products supports Green Roofs for the West Symposium in Denver, Colorado on June 16th, 2011.

–  Industry News

–   The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Philadelphia Water Department will sign a groundbreaking agreement that will allow the PWD to officially implement its Green City, Clean Waters plan.  PWD plans to spend approximately $2 billion over the next 25 years to use largely green infrastructure to transform manmade surfaces that repel the rain into green acres that capture, infiltrate and manage rainwater runoff””just like Mother Nature.

–   Read our new Guest Student Article, “Ecological, Social, and Policy Factors Influencing Biodiversity on Green Roofs“ by Bracha (Y.) Schindler.  Last year she studied six different greenroofs in the Boston area and discusses how a diversity of arthropods may improve greenroof functioning by resulting in pest control and decomposition of organic materials in the soil.

–   Over at the Sky Gardens Blog, make sure to check out Linda’s latest posts for our GPW, the Southface Eco Office, last week’s “This Week in Review“ on GreenroofsTV, and “Come see 401 Richmond this weekend in Toronto – doors are open!“

–   “Upcoming Events“

–   June 4th – 5th: there is a Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington.

–   June 5th: is World Environment Day!

–   June 8th: is a Green Roofs for Healthy Cities – Green Roof Professional Exam in New York, New York.

–   And June 9th: is the Green Roof and Wall Networking and Information Evening in Toronto, Canada.

–  For more Upcoming Events visit our homepage.

–   “In the News“

–   Adam Crisp of reports on “Red Bank High School students plant green roof, promote unconventional urban agriculture.”  Along with absorbing rainwater and cooling the high school, the Red Bank greenroof in Chattanooga, TN, is growing vegetables for its students.  Teacher LuShan Webb said, “It gives the students valuable hands-on experience outside the classroom…It teaches them how you can do sustainable agriculture in small areas.”  Advanced placement biology students are maintaining the greenroof as well as using it as an outdoor lab.

–   Susan DeFreitas of EarthTechling says “Bon Jovi Gets Behind Affordable Green Housing.”  Project H.O.M.E. and Bethesda Project have announced that Conelly House, the first LEED-certified, affordable housing facility in the city center of Philadelphia is now complete.  Also involved in the announcement were Mayor Michael A. Nutter, rock star celebrity Jon Bon Jovi, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Brian Hudson from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.  Among others, eco-friendly elements for this building include highly insulated walls, a rainwater collection system for irrigation and non-potable use, high-efficiency mechanical and lighting  systems, and a greenroof.

–   To learn more about these stories and new ones posted daily, go to our  In the News or  newslinks section of our website.

–   Have something you think we should know about and post on our website?   You can send us your green articles, videos and images to

–   Stay up-to-date with what’s going on at by subscribing to our  greenroofsTV channel on YouTube, following us on  Twitter, liking us on  Facebook and being a member of our network on  LinkedIn.

–   This has been This Week in Review for June 3, 2011 on GreenroofsTV.  I’m Anjuli Velazquez and I’ll see you next week!

*This week’s episode is sponsored by  The Greenroof Directory, brought to you by*

Did we miss something?   We’d love to hear from you!

~ Linda V.