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NSCC And SMU Collaborating Up On The Roof

NSCC Research Scientist Alain Joseph knew about the innovative green roof research being done by Saint Mary’s University’s native plant ecologist Jeremy Lundholm, and saw great potential for collaboration, but the opportunity didn’t arise until Dr. Lundholm and his team of researchers went looking for a roof.

“We needed a pilot site where we could study the performance of native plants on pre-grown, green roof vegetation mats,” says Saint Mary’s MSc candidate Stephanie Appleby-Jones, “and what better place than the NSCC waterfront campus’ new Centre for the Built Environment (CBE), a building designed to showcase sustainable technologies and collaborative learning.”

“Our Applied Research Office at NSCC was approached by Gina Funicelli, Director of Saint Mary’s Industry Liaison Office, and quickly coordinated a meeting with our facilities management team to confirm the possibility of using our new CBE building as a pilot site,” says Dr. Joseph, a specialist in applied and sustainable energy research. “NSCC’s Waterfront Campus already had one green roof, and I knew that the CBE was engineered to carry the roof load for another.”

Building on investigations conducted in Saint Mary’s nationally-funded green roof testing facility, the project is supported by Dr. Lundholm’s approximately $235,000 in combined research funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Halifax Regional Municipality, and Vitaroofs, one of the country’s largest green roof companies.
“We have been testing native plant species on green roofs since 2007,” says Dr. Lundholm. “This project will allow us to assess native species on the pre-grown mats used by Vitaroofs, and represents an opportunity to expand the applications of our native species using the light-weight and quick install green roof format of our industry partner.”

“The result,” says lead researcher Appleby-Jones, “is a promising collaboration between academics and industry members who share concerns about greenhouse gases and rising energy costs.”

“Atlantic Canada has one of the best climates in the world for high-performance green roof systems,” says Gina Funicelli. “Dr. Lundholm has already made significant advances in studying the function of native plants used for this purpose. New knowledge generated from our partnership with NSCC will not only benefit our own institutions, but it will also be instrumental in supporting the competitiveness of our regional eco roof industry.”