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Music City Center’s Big Green Roof

Last week was a big week for sustainability in Nashville. Nashville’s new convention center, the Music City Center, garnered the Special Recognition award at 2014 Cities Alive conference.

The urban hub includes an array of 845 solar panels, LED lighting, a 360,000 gallon rainwater cistern and, of course a four acre green roof.  Just by existing, this living building generates 271,000 kW per year; channels rainwater to flush 500 toilets and irrigate the site landscape, and annually prevents 3,382,767 gallons of rainwater from entering the city’s sewer system. By optimizing sunlight and shade, insulating materials, and a high performance HVAC system, this building imposes a 20% smaller burden on the electrical grid than a similarly sized building.  Walls, fabrics, woods, carpets and coatings were selected to improve indoor air quality.  Of course, the Music City Center recycles (almost everything!), and leftover food and registration materials are donated to non-profit organizations.  “Waste” is just not in their lexicon.

Alas, this is a green roof blog . . . and this green roof is more than just a pretty roof. Aside from managing massive amounts of stormwater and generating huge amounts of electricity, the roof is now recognized as a colossal living, breathing logo for the Music City Center.

Rooftop guitar body with solar panels and green roof frets.

Rooftop guitar body with solar panels and green roof frets.

If you ever find yourself in Nashville airspace, you really can’t miss the monstrous rooftop guitar body with green, living sound waves undulating out to the roof edges. That’s a pretty expert bit of city-wide product placement!

Blue Angels in the airspace above Music City Center.  Photo courtesy Greenrise Technologies.

Blue Angels in the airspace above Music City Center.  Photo courtesy Greenrise Technologies.

The green roof’s sine wave topography — evocative of the Tennessee hillside, required some muscular engineering (which Team Roofmeadow was proud to provide). Pitches range from 16% – 25%, requiring integrated slope stabilization measures.

A view up a steep Sedum slope.

A view up a steep Sedum slope on the Music City Center green roof.

The extremely lean 2.5-inch thick green roof profile weighs in at only 17.5 pounds per square foot (at its heaviest) and is designed to maximize the time water flows horizontally through the root zone before exiting at the drains, reducing irrigation requirements.

The thin profile is sloped to maximize the time roots and water have contact.

The thin profile is sloped to maximize the time roots and water have contact.

Base capillary irrigation evenly distributes water, notwithstanding the laws of physics which otherwise would leave and rooftop hills parched and the valleys soaked. Pre-grown Sedum mats helped to protect the roof from wind uplift and scour.

This elegant and hardworking landscape embodies the spirit of Nashville’s progressive stormwater policy.

Visible from surrounding buildings, the monolithic roofscape offers seasonal variation through broad swaths of color: yellow and pink in the spring, green in the summer and red and russet in the fall.

Roofmeadow would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the rest of the team who made the green roof on this Nashville icon a reality:

tvs design: Architect

Greenrise Technologies: Green roof contractor

Sempergreen: Pre-grown Sedum mat provider

Sika Sarnafil: Waterproofing provider

The view from a neighboring building.

The view from a neighboring building.

The LEED Silver building also garnered the 2013 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award.  The award winning roof is home not only to plants but to grasshoppers, praying mantises, butterflies, moths, bees, doves and hawks.

A grasshopper at home on the Music City Center green roof.

A grasshopper at home on the Music City Center green roof.

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