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My Green Roof, My Classroom

By Alison Love

My name is Alison Love, and I am a student at Germantown Friends School (GFS).  Every year, my school gives eleventh graders the month of January off to participate in an internship of their choice.  The students research and set up their own projects.  For my Junior Project, I interned at Roofmeadow.  I could not have found a more warm and welcoming place to work.  Everyone at Roofmeadow was extremely friendly and encouraging, despite their busy schedules.  My days mostly consisted of working on the maintenance aspect of the business, as well as attending daily and topical meetings.  I worked with their project database, Maintenance Manuals, and Maintenance Reports.  I could see how roofs developed over time and what happened to the plants depending on the season.  I was able to learn about the roofs while simultaneously doing work.

Roofmeadow intern, Alison Love, preparing to get to work on the GFS green roof.

Roofmeadow intern, Alison Love, preparing to get to work on the GFS green roof.

While working at Roofmeadow, I went up on the GFS green roof with Jane Winkel for an inspection.  It was interesting and fun (despite the freezing weather) to visit the roof because I was able to apply the work I was doing in the office to a real green roof.  To evaluate the roof, we laid down a surveyor tape and recorded the position of the line.  We placed a 1.5’x1.5’ collapsible square at the beginning of the tape.  In this square, we counted the number of different species of plants and weeds.  We estimated the coverage of vegetation and evaluated the root development.  We took samples of unknown plants and uncommonly damp soil.  After inspecting and photographing the square, we repeated the process 20 feet along the tape until we reached the end of the roof.  We checked the drains and overall sun coverage of the roof. The process was precisely documented so that students can potentially repeat it in the future.  Roofmeadow and GFS are hoping to set up an ongoing relationship.

One of the transects on the GFS green roof: simple but effective

One of the transects on the GFS green roof: simple but effective

I was also able to join some of the Roofmeadow staff on a visit to the Penn State University Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory, where Roofmeadow sends media (soil) and irrigation water samples to be tested.  We were given a tour of the lab and a greenhouse where different green roof fabrics are tested.

It was a great experience to visit the Penn State Lab and the GFS green roof as well as to be a part of the Roofmeadow office.  It was wonderful to be part of a group that is working on innovative solutions to local and global environmental challenges.  I was learning constantly about green roof construction and benefits as well as operating a small business. I loved spending January at Roofmeadow and hope to come back soon.

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