Bank invests in green roof

Severn Savings' environmentally conscious Annapolis building lauded

November 12, 2006|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,sun reporter

Annapolis' newest green space will be five stories up.

The roof of the $20 million Severn Savings Bank headquarters in Annapolis will be picnic-ready by spring, with tables and benches from which to admire downtown.

Scheduled to open next month, the office and retail building on Westgate Circle is what bank and city officials said is the first commercial space in Annapolis with a "green roof," which insulates in the winter and cools in the summer. It filters impurities in rainwater and absorbs it, reducing runoff by as much as 75 percent.

Alan Hyatt, president of Severn Bancorp, said Thursday at an open house for the 82,000-square-foot building that initial plans called for 40 rooftop-parking spaces. The idea for a green roof emerged during conversations among the city's planning and zoning officials, architects and designers.

"We felt like we had to give something back, we can't just take," Hyatt said. "Now that it's here, we're happy we did it. It was done voluntarily."

A recent survey conducted by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a nonprofit industry association, found an 80 percent growth in green roof square footage across the country from 2004 to 2005.

In Baltimore, the National Aquarium, Good Samaritan Hospital and Living Classrooms Foundation have them. And in Annapolis last year, an Annapolis Police Department station and a building at Back Creek Nature Park went green last year.

Tecta America, a roofing company partly based in Jessup that installed those roofs, has planted about a football field's worth of greenery atop buildings in Annapolis.

O'Doherty Group Landscape Architecture of Annapolis designed Severn Bank's green roof and building grounds. The 12,500-square-foot roof of the five-story Severn headquarters is covered with about four inches of pumice-like soil that is heavy enough to stay on windy days but light enough that it doesn't put too much weight on the roof.

Sedum, a sturdy and succulent plant, will provide coverage come spring and add colors - yellow, white and purple - in the summer.

White rocks line part of the roof, along with junipers that will eventually grow over the sides of the building. Tables and chairs will also be set up. The roof, which includes a watertight membrane and a drainage system, will require little maintenance.

"Rainfall won't go from roof to roads to the bay," said Angie Durham, green roof specialist at Tecta America. "The more green roofs we can do, the better off the bay will be."

The roof is open to the public; the building will house a coffee shop and a full-service restaurant in addition to the bank.

A green roof costs about $12 to $20 per square foot. The one on top of the bank, which covers the building's four-story parking garage, cost about $400,000 more than a conventional blacktop roof, Hyatt said.

The new roof could save money through lower heating and cooling bills, and, because the greenery will shield the roof from the elements, the roof could last two to three times longer than a conventional one.

Limiting storm water runoff, waterway pollution, and increasing the canopy of greenery is what the city wants to do.

"The mayor has wanted to have a green roof like that in town that she could use as a demonstration. She wants to green Annapolis and this is just one part of many ways to do that," said Jon Arason, director of the city's planning and zoning department. "One would hope that it encourages others to follow suit. It's just a new way to treat an old rooftop."

Hyatt acknowledged that the building's size raised concerns among some residents but said its design - with its rounded front, glass exterior and wire awnings - is in keeping with the character of Annapolis. The architect was Alt Breeding Schwartz of Annapolis.

Denise Worthen, president of the Murray Hill Residents Association, , had mostly praise for Hyatt's efforts.

"It doesn't mitigate the size of it, but it's laudable that they are doing it," she said. "They deserve some credit for being innovative and for doing something with storm water management rather than letting it run off."

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