Luther's green roof continues to thrive

After nearly a year of growth, the green roof installed on Luther College's Sampson-Hoffland Laboratories is alive and kicking. Surviving through a harsh, record-breaking winter, the roof has already proved the hardiness of its plants and will continue to show its ecological and social advantages in the years to come.

Both Luther students and staff participated in the installation of the green roof in 2013. Together, they constructed the 1,500 square foot area capable of sustaining 29 drought-tolerant plant varieties hardy to Northeast Iowa. These plants showcase a range of hues, adding aesthetic appeal to the roof's practicality.

"I'm thrilled the students will be able to use the installation of this roof on their own campus as a group project related to sustainability," said Maren Stumme-Diers, Luther College sustainable foods educator. "Their past projects have included Ethical Apparel in the Book Shop, Greening Athletics and Zero Waste Cafeteria among others, but this is one of their largest efforts."

In addition to its colorful array of plantlife, the roof also features a rain garden to help sustain the plants, a chilled-water recirculation loop to remove heat from scientific instruments and a Roof Top Sedums Dedicated Outdoor Air system, providing Sampson-Hoffland with fresh air while saving energy.

"Luther is really taking a huge step in the right direction towards environmental sustainability," said Roxanne Nagel, Co-owner of Roof Top Sedums, the company which provided the roof's growing materials.  "They should be proud to have the first green roof in Decorah."

Green roofs are longterm money-savers as well as also highly eco-friendly. They reduce air pollution, enhance storm water management and water quality and reduce the amount of run-off water from Sampson-Hoffland.

Sampson Hoffland Laboratories is one of only eight buildings in Iowa with gold certification from the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design program.