Building 12 gets a new green hat

The revamped structure will have an open-office concept to improve workflow and day lighting. The building was designed to meet or exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification criteria set by the U.S. Green Building Council and will do that and more with the innovative green roofing system. Also, alternative energy sources will be relied on with the installation of photovoltaics and four vertical helix wind turbines.

Click for larger imager
A close up of Building 12's new green roof.
What’s all the buzz about green roofs?

Jeff White, NASA project manager, said there are quite a few benefits to having a green roof. For one, it is very environmentally friendly because it reduces what they call the urban heat island effect.

“If you have a roof that absorbs the solar radiation, then it creates heat,” said Brian Dark, Gilbane Construction manager. “Then you have the concrete out here that’s doing the same thing and the black top street and the store parking lots, throughout the city; there are all these heat islands. So, it actually raises the temperature somewhere between 10-15 degrees, in some cases. LEED really focuses on reducing that by using a high reflectivity roof surface like a white PVC-coated roof. Or, you go to a green roof and completely eliminate it. So, that’s what it does.”

There’s also less storm water run-off on this time of roof system. Instead of just running off the roof and in the drain, “It actually soaks into the soil and is used to water the plants,” White explained. “Overall it makes the building envelope more energy efficient. It takes less energy to heat and cool the building. The green roof is a great insulator and helps reduce noise level, as well.If you have a noise, it will bounce off a regular roof and reflect, but in this type of roof, it will actually absorb it. So there’s quite a few benefits to it.”

What does the maintenance of such a roof entail?

Dark said since it’s a natural habitat, there will be less maintenance. The JSC grounds keeping staff will oversee the roof maintenance as they do with the rest of the center.

“It’s landscaping, as in weeding it and keeping it clean,” Dark said. “They’re going to look to make sure no drains are clogged, look for wind erosion and check the irrigation system to make sure it’s functioning. And really just keeping an eye on the plants themselves, making sure that they look good, and keeping any foreign plants out.”

The roof is not one that can entertain spectators because of the need and cost of structural upgrades.

An aerial view of the Building 12 green roof.
An aerial view of the Building 12 green roof.

Facts and figures

Building 12’s new roof will have the following plant types (scientific name, common name and quantity):

Glandularia Bipinnatifida, Dakota Mock Vervain, 11,661; Reullia Brittoniana ‘Pink,’ Dwark Pink Ruellia, 11,661; Sedum Moranense, Red Stonecrop, 11,661; Malephora Lutea, Rocky Point Ice Plant, 10,810; Sedum Mexicanum, Mexican Sedum, 10,810; Sedum Rupestre ‘Angelina,’ Angelina Stonecrop, 10,810.

The total plant count is approximately 67,413. They are planted in an 8-inch triangular pattern with an even mix. Plant coverage is about 50 percent of the roof after one year and 80 percent after two years. There are 1.2 million pounds of growing media (soil). The growing media is developed specifically for garden roofs and consist of blends of lightweight aggregate, lightweight aggregate fines, low clay sandy loam, medium coarse sand, compost, peat moss and perlite.

This project is expected to be finished in June 2012.

Neesha Hosein
Johnson Space Center, Houston

NASA Home JSC Home

For questions, comments and requests
about JSC Features please contact Catherine Ragin Williams.

Curator: JSC PAO Web Team
Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer

Web Accessibility and Policy Notices

Updated: 03/13/2012