Hamilton County Health Department goes green with new roof

Hamilton County Health Department goes green with new roof

August 15th, 2011 by Ansley Haman in News

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd Hamilton County Health Department.

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The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department will soon upgrade a section of its roof from aged black rubber to dynamic layers of green. County Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday to authorize County Mayor Jim Coppinger to increase a contract with one of the construction companies slated to work on the green roof. The project is being funded by a $250,000 federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation grant and more than $53,000 from green/spaces.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department will soon upgrade a section of its roof from aged black rubber to dynamic layers of green.

One wing of the department's main building will have a new roof covered by drought-resistant grass and low plants by the end of the year. The variety of native species have been selected to provide seasonal variety. The roof will be the first of its kind on a county building.

The roof will be "visually appealing as well as functional," said Sabrina Novak, an environmental scientist for the health department. "You drastically extend the lifespan of your roof by covering it with the green roof."

County Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday to authorize County Mayor Jim Coppinger to increase a contract with one of the construction companies slated to work on the green roof. The project is being funded by a $250,000 federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation grant and more than $53,000 from green/spaces.

Commissioner Tim Boyd asked in an Aug. 11 Commission Finance Committee meeting whether the county's engineering department had studied the sustainability cost of the roof. Todd Leamon, county engineer, said his department had not conducted such a study but that the project would save the county the $60,000 it would otherwise cost to replace the rubber roof with a new one.

Health department Administrator Becky Barnes said she was "looking for energy efficiency improvements" when she came across the green roof project. She said the new roof should reduce the building's energy bill.

"We had worked on this concept before," Barnes said. "We just thought it was a really good fit."

In addition to energy cost savings, the roof is designed to runoff and reduce the heat island effect of dark roofs in urban areas, Barnes said.

The grant also has an educational component. Health department employees will incorporate tours of the roof in lessons about health and nutrition for students and community members.

Work on the roof is scheduled to begin in October during the fall planting season and will last 10 weeks.

The building is located at 921 E. Third St., between Erlanger hospital and Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation. Patients in the neighboring buildings will be able to see the new roof from their upper-floor rooms, Barnes said.

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