A semester on the roof

The greenroof project has been been a ton of fun, and I’ve learned a lot. I got the opportunity to use and see lots of really cool scientific equipment. Getting my hands in the dirt, or the lab, was a great learning environment. I’m now confident that I could build a greenroof without instruction, and understand the science behind its environmental benefits. One interesting potential environmental benefit, that Dr. Dvorak informed me about, is the potential for greenroofs to serve as a biogeographical corridor. A corridor is a strip of habitat that connects ecosystems on a fragmented landscape. They can be important in preserving biodiversity. Widespread adoption of greenroofs in a city, or on a campus can grant insects, like butterflies, a new geographical route across urban regions. I thought this perk was really cool, and made a lot of sense.
it becomes clearer how much good these gardens may do. Urban regions exact a heavy toll on the environment by transforming it so radically. An entire swath of plant life is transformed into cement. We are beginning to realize some of the effects of this transformation. The urban heat island effect, habitat fragmentation, and reduced absorption of greenhouse gases are a few. I’m guessing we still don’t know many of the effects the lack of vegetative cover has, however, I do know a safe non-risky solution; greenroofs, lots of them. Large scale greenroofing, across a campus or urban region, is a risk-free and fun way to mitigate the risk associated with urban land-use change. They allow urban areas to benefit from natural processes, rather than being blocked from them. The vegitative cover could raise an urban area’s albedo, absorb CO2, cool our buildings in the summer through transpiration, insulate them in the winter, and increase local biodiversity.
Greenroofs are pretty to look at and fun to construct, this makes them a superb tool to bring cities and campuses closer nature. I want to thank Dr. Volder and Dr. Dvorak for coming up with the idea, getting the grant to make it happen, and including me on this awesome project. I also want to thank Kirk for all his hard work and dedication, and for being great at communicating with students and organizing people. Hope everyone has a fun, safe, and peaceful winter break!
-Cam Bartzen

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