Green roof at Korematsu Middle School

This is the tale of why one U.S. middle school chose to think outside of the box — literally — opting to install green roof technology on top of their box. The recently completed project at Korematsu Middle School in El Cerrito, Calif. (a former elementary school), represents the state’s largest LiveRoof green roof installation to date. The project is already thriving, reducing waste each and every day.

Take note, class.

Let’s green-light the green roof project

“The conversion of Korematsu Middle School from an elementary school to a middle school campus required thoughtful design coupled with the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) standards. The WCCUSD Board of Education had Korematsu built with the CHPS standards because kids learn better in schools with good lighting, clean air and comfortable classrooms,” said Keith Holtslander, director of facilities and construction for West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD).

Environmental achievement

LiveRoof Global’s patented LiveRoof Hybrid Green Roof System establishes a healthy, sustainable ecosystem that covers the rooftop with seamless, verdant vegetation. All 15,000 square feet of drought-tolerant sedum plants was fully grown upon installation, providing immediate function, benefit and beauty for the school.

Installers working on the LiveRoof green roof at Korematsu MS
Project team members install LiveRoof Global’s patented LiveRoof Hybrid Green Roof System on top of Korematsu Middle School.

The project represents a win-win-win for the school, its students and the community. Why? Green roof technology reduces the school’s environmental footprint and provides a living model of sustainability best practices. Integrated into the project are eco-benefits such as:

  • Simulation models estimate that the project will reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 14 percent.
  • Green roof technology can actually extend roof life by up to 200 to 300 percent — or 40 to 50 years.
  • Soil and plants now provide a protective barrier reducing the roof’s exposure to ultraviolet rays and extreme temperatures.
  • Green roof technology inherently provides fire protection and reduces the urban heat island effect.
  • Interior noise pollution can be reduced by up to 40 decibels so students can concentrate on what’s going on in the classroom.
  • Green roofs lead to improved ecosystem efficiency.
  • Green roof technology can reduce storm water runoff by 65 to 90 percent in the summer and 25 to 40 percent in the winter months.
  • In combination with drought-tolerant plants, rainwater, which is also now filtered, can be returned to the environment through evaporation.
  • Air filtration is improved as plants capture air pollutants, creating a cleaner and healthier outdoor environment for students.
  • Plant photosynthesis reduces greenhouse gases in the air.

The new Korematsu Middle School LiveRoof green roof represents a patented, subterranean modular system uniting soil and plant creating a beautiful, meadow-like aesthetic. So, not only is the roof easy on the eyes — it’s functional, too. But, it didn’t just grow on its own overnight.

Completed green roof at Korematsu Middle School
Not only is the green roof at Korematsu Middle School easy on the eyes, it’s also functional.

Teaching teamwork

Four groups partnered together to ensure the Korematsu Middle School LiveRoof green roof installation was successful:

  • FloraSource Ltd., the California LiveRoof sales representative
  • Meadowland Nurseries LLC, the Northern California LiveRoof Grower based in Watsonville, Calif.
  • Green Growth Industries, of Pleasanton, Calif., who installed the green roof
  • Hibser-Yamauchi Architects, the architect of record that recently won a Bronze Award for Design for its work at Korematsu

“Children are the direct beneficiaries of our conservation and sustainability efforts and it’s up to us to ensure their futures and their own children’s futures remain green and bright,” said Florasource’s Tom Hawkins.

Rather than be strangled by constraints, Korematsu Middle School and its project partners are teaching future leaders — leaders who just may be inspired to create the next-generation green roof.

Where would you like to see a green roof installed in your community?

Image credits: Florasource Ltd.

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.