Sedum plants covering 2,650 square feet of roof over an ice arena at Colorado College will require little maintenance while helping to insulate the building and lower noise levels.
Sedum plants covering 2,650 square feet of roof over an ice arena at Colorado College will require little maintenance while helping to insulate the building and lower noise levels.

The Honnen Ice Arena at Colorado College recently got a roof covering of living plants, a choice that college officials say will pay off in a variety of ways. In addition to reducing storm water runoff, the 13,000 sedums planted in trays atop the arena will lower noise levels inside, help insulate the building and help clean the air.

The $200,000 project at the Colorado Springs campus included the installation of a waterproof membrane, edging and an irrigation system. It took a team of 15 employees and 25 student volunteers two days to install the plants.

Covering 2,650 square feet of roof, the plants won't need much maintenance, aside from a little bit of weeding now and again. And because it's a perennial, the sedum will reseed itself, said the college's landscape and grounds supervisor. The college plans to give the same treatment to two other roofs on campus, including the library and a student dorm.

"We're looking at using natural systems, or biomimicry, to solve problems," said college sustainability director Ian Johnson said. "It's a natural solution for the climate control of the building."

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