Western Illinois University officials hope the roof spaces of the school's new Multicultural Center will soon be sprouting. Four separate roofs on the school's new two-story $6.5 million center will be covered with vegetation, which is projected to double the roof's life.
Western Illinois University officials hope the roof spaces of the school's new Multicultural Center will soon be sprouting.
Four separate roofs on the school's new two-story $6.5 million center will be covered with vegetation, which is projected to double the roof's life. The finished building will hold offices for WIU's Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center, the Women's Center, Casa Latina and the International Friendship Club.
On Tuesday workers began covering the roof surfaces with a granular growth medium, similar to dirt. That's on top of additional layers that include decking and insulation.
The top of the building will be covered with a slanted "green" roof, while three lower roof surfaces will also have the plantings, some of which will be visible from the building's windows.
Ted Renner, WIU construction project coordinator II, said Tuesday that eight different species of sedum will be planted on the surfaces in a pattern.
"That way if one gets a disease the whole roof doesn't die," he said. "They're native to Illinois and they're drought resistant."
The plants will only grow between 5 and 6 inches tall and resemble a coarse shrub.
The planting material will hold on to the water needed to help the sedum survive, and the remainder will run off into drains connected to the local storm drainage system.
Maintenance on the roofs is projected to be minimal.
"We may have to pull a weed every now and then," Renner said. "The big joke on campus is to ask when we're going to bring the goats in."
The biggest benefit of the roof, Renner said is that it extends its life from the typical 20 years to 40 years.
Renner said he started on the project's steering committee and then continued on with other aspects of the project.
"I had the unique opportunity to work with those who wanted the building, those who designed the building and those who are constructing the building," he said.
Other environmentally-friendly aspects of the project include installation of a geothermal system that uses a series of underground wells to ground to heat and cool the building. Leander Construction Inc. of Canton, the building's general contractor, is also using the interior lighting of the building to light the outside, cutting down on light pollution. The building won't have a parking lot in an effort to encourage walking or use of public transportation.
The new building is being constructed using materials such as concrete and steel recycled from the demolished building that formerly sat on the site.
Renner said WIU is pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for the structure. That means it was constructed addressing environmental issues, which helps with the school's goal of environmental sustainability.
Renner said WIU has received about $140,000 in grant money toward some of the green aspects of the project from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation.
A rainy spring pushed the completion date for the project back to the end of February.
Jodi Pospeschil can be reached at (309) 686-3041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.