by Lance Turner
Posted 11/6/2013 08:19 am
Updated 5 months ago
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville is taking green building to a higher level. The roof.
The world's largest retailer is working with Portland State University to build a green roof research site on top of Wal-Mart's new store in North Portland.
PSU’s Green Building Research Laboratory will deploy scores of sensors and a weather station on Walmart’s new Hayden Meadows store. It will feature 40,000 square feet of vegetative roof installed in three separate sections—each devoted to testing different aspects of green roof design, such as materials and soil depth. The remaining 52,000 square feet of white membrane rooftop will also be monitored by sensors, providing an opportunity to deliver side-by-side comparisons on factors including surface temperature, water flow and building operations.
Data collected from the Hayden Meadows roof will be compared to similar data collected on a Walmart green roof in Chicago, thus providing a comprehensive view of green roof performance under various conditions, PSU says.
Yep, Wal-Mart has a green roof project in Chicago, as well. In fact, Arkansas Business wrote about it waaay back in 2004, part of a story on how Wal-Mart was adapting its stores to different cities. At the time, Wal-Mart was the first "big-box" retailer to take part in a Chicago program that encourage green roof projects:
John Bisio, the Wal-Mart spokesman, said the company has been building stores with white rooftops for at least seven years now, but the foliage on the roof will be an added benefit to urban Chicago.
"It will keep things cooler in the summer, beautify the area and reduce air pollution," he said.
Green roofs have also been popping up in Arkansas. The University of Central Arkansas began testing one on Laney Hall in 2010. And the new Hillside Auditorium on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville features a three-tiered roof design that will support trees, shrubbery, ornamental grasses and other plantings.
Wal-Mart's Portland project will include lots of student involvement and community partners, including the local Bureau of Environmental Services and the Audubon Society, which will monitor bird habitats.
“The data we collect will help the green building industry improve upon the many benefits provided by green roofs—from reducing heat island effects to improving overall building performance,” said David Sailor, director of the PSU Green Building Research Laboratory and professor of mechanical engineering. “This research project will lead to better green roof design for buildings around the world.”