Our Top Five Favorite Denver Area Green Roofs

If you live in Colorado you know there is a lot to do outdoors. There are so many parks and green spaces that it can be a hard to decide where to enjoy that quick lunch or morning stroll. But here at Sow Green we have a special place for green roofs in our heart, so we’ve decided to round up some of our local favorites.*

  Photo Credit: Sow Green

Photo Credit: Sow Green

Auraria Campus CCD

The local CCD Auraria Campus features a green roof with an extensive sedum species that changes colors throughout the year. It’s is a perfect example of how a roof can be energy efficient and storm water safe. Classes on campus do research on the roof, it requires very little maintenance, so it is a campus favorite among students and staff.

What we love: This roof is accessible from inside the building and is a safe spot for pollinators and nesting birds!

  Photo Credit: Sow Green

Photo Credit: Sow Green

MSU Student Success Center

The MSU Student success center has 10 varieties of sedum and natural pathways for regular maintenance staff and researchers. The plant life varieties are seasonal, growing back every year in the spring. But what is really cool about this roof is the research on the various green roof plants species and insect life.

What we love: Come spring time this green roof will be covered in succulents!

  Photo Credit Denver Green Roof Initiative

Photo Credit Denver Green Roof Initiative

Denver Botanic Gardens

The green roof at the Denver Botanic Gardens opened in November 2007. It is situated above the former Gift Shop (now Bistro) and features native, drought tolerant plants that can grow in a semi-arid climate. Designed and created by resident green roof expert, Senior Horticulturist Mark Fusco this beautiful green space was initially established using about 60 different plant species. Approximately 1,000 plants were planted, and 90% survived the first winter (2).

What we love: This green roof departs from the traditional sedum materials and uses a very wide diversity of plants. Many of the plants were selected to test which ones would do well in our region (we expect nothing less from our local plant experts). This roof proves that your green roof doesn’t have to be purely functional but can be beautiful too.

  Photo Credit Denver Green Roof Initiative

Photo Credit Denver Green Roof Initiative

Denver EPA Region 8 Office

Our local EPA Region 8 Office installed one of the first green roofs of its kind in January 2007. The vegetation covers over 20,000 square feet of the roof (nearly 60%), and features forty-eight solar photovoltaic (PV) panels with peak output of 10 kilowatts. The roof helped the building reach LEED Gold certification, earning 40 out of 69 possible points (1).

What we love: The plants on this roof were installed in trays made from recycled plastic, and it is ENERGY STAR® certified!

  Photo Credit Denver Green Roof Initiative

Photo Credit Denver Green Roof Initiative

Anschutz Wellness Center - CU Aurora

Last but certainly not least, the Anschutz Wellness Center at the CU Aurora Campus features a small but powerful green roof that grows fruits and vegetables for use in the facilities Bistro Elaia. Funded by the historic Nu Sigma Nu medical fraternity, the rooftop space includes seating areas and a great view for relaxing and socializing. The wellness center opened in 2012 and in LEED certified (3).

What we love: This roof shows us that green roofs can support healthier communities and lifestyle choices by providing nutritious food. Hospital gardens can even heal patients (5). It is also a great use of biophilic design in a wellness space, which can promote productivity and mental focus.

*Note: Not all of the green roofs listed here are accessible to the public.

Sources:

  1. Denver EPA Building: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-09/documents/denver_case_study_508.pdf

  2. Denver Botanic Gardens: https://www.botanicgardens.org/blog/green-roof-%E2%80%93-year-and-half-later

  3. CU Aurora Wellness Center: http://anschutzwellness.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/AHWC-Fact-Sheet.pdf

  4. http://www.denvergreenroof.org/colorado-green-roofs/

  5. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nature-that-nurtures/