Green Roofs Part of Notre Dame's Higher Calling For Sustainability

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(Image courtesy of the University of Notre Dame.) (Image courtesy of the University of Notre Dame.)
SOUTH BEND -

The University of Notre Dame has taken its green efforts to new heights. The school is touting what it calls the largest green roof in Indiana. The more than 79,000 square-foot installation sits on top of the Joyce Center, home to the Fighting Irish Athletics Department and the Purcell Pavilion arena.

The project marks the fifth and largest green roof Notre Dame has installed on campus, including three buildings around the football stadium. The others are at the Morris Inn, Corbett Family Hall, Duncan Student Center and O'Neill Hall.

Senior Director of Sustainability and Continuous Improvement Carol Mullaney says putting living vegetation planted on rooftops helps buildings conserve energy and water. She says it helps eliminate stormwater runoff and provides insulation for the buildings, decreasing the heating and cooling needed. In addition, the installations protect the roofs from sunlight, meaning they last longer.

Notre Dame partnered with Michigan-based LiveRoof to design and grow the greenscape, which was then installed by Midland Engineering Co. in South Bend. The installation includes more than 32,000 trays of plants, consisting of 25 plant species. It also features a rooftop irrigation system.

The green roofs are part of an ambitious goal the school set in 2005: reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and 83 percent by 2050. Mullaney says the school is trending ahead of those goals thanks to a system-wide focus on sustainability.

Mullaney says Notre Dame’s sustainability strategy focuses on six areas: energy and emissions, water usage, building and construction, procurement and sourcing, waste and education, research and community outreach.

Most of the efforts, Mullaney says, focus on energy and emissions. She says the school has installed a few solar arrays, including a large one at an off-campus warehouse facility, and has started work on a hydroelectric generation facility in downtown South Bend. The university is also expecting to end its use of coal this year, which is ahead of its initial projection.

In addition to working to improve efficiency in current buildings, Mullaney says all new construction is using LEED guidelines from the U.S. Green Building Council and using recycled materials and recycling waste from the construction process.

"As part of that there are all sorts of energy conservation and water conservation elements within those buildings," says Mullaney, "The use of recycled material in some of our building or furnishing materials as well as the recycling of any waste that's part of the construction process, those are all key elements of the LEED certification."

The school also hopes its green efforts are catching the eye of current and prospective students. She calls sustainability a “critical issue” for current and future generations.

"Many of our students have great interest in that," Mullaney says, "not only as their personal interest, but many of them from an academic viewpoint and a future career standpoint as well."

Mullaney says sustainability programs will only continue to grow in the coming years at Notre Dame, as the Catholic university looks to heed the call from Pope Francis to "care for our common home."

Fujawa says "small, mindful changes" from students and staff can make a big difference.
Mullaney says the project plays into Notre Dame’s mission.
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