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Created in 1939, the International Institute of Tropical Forestry is a research and technology transfer institute located in Puerto Rico, part of the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. The IITF serves as a focal point for bringing external research and educational resources to bear on issues affecting tropical forests and grasslands and recently underwent a long restoration of its headquarters complex. With stormwater and urban heat island mitigation as goals, the new LEED-Gold Institute has 50,000 square feet of modern, state-of-the-art facilities that include a green, pervious parking lot; rainwater harvesting; retention ponds; and a green roof research station.
Architect Jeannette Rullán from RMA Architects, green roof consultant David L. Aponte from PRGD, and USDA engineer Juan Vissepó designed the green roofs as an experimental intervention that would further the understanding in hydrological, thermal, and ecological behavior and benefits in a sub-tropical scenario. Test green roofs were installed on four buildings and sub-divisioning resulted in 7 green roofs and 1 cool roof. A total of 22 species were used – around 16,000 plugs, with some seeds. Materials used include: Firestone 90 mil EPDM membrane; ZinCo green roof material; and Rooflite extensive growing media. Four cisterns collect 6,800 gallons of harvested stormwater, used for general cleaning and irrigation, including the green roofs when necessary. The monitoring scheme compiles the green roofs’ effectiveness regarding balances of energy, water, and nutrients with two Campbell weather stations to monitor air temperature, humidity, wind speed, impact energy, and rain. Sensors were placed on the ground surface, inside the volume of the soil, and the roof surface – on both cool and green roofs, for a total of 80 sensors. During the hottest times of the day, the green roof temperature is about 10° F cooler than ambient temperature. The differences in temperature between the green roof and ambient temperature mean less burden on the internal control of the temperature of the building and therefore result in energy savings on this iconic, historic building site.
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Greenroofs.com Project of the Week video photo and graphic credits: David L Aponte, PRGD Inc.; Jeannette Rullán, RMA Architects; María M. Rivera Costa, Ariel E. Lugo, and Jeannette Rullán in “El Mensaje de Conservación de las Instalaciones Restauradas del Instituto Internacional de Dasonomía Tropical” RESEARCH NOTE IITF-RN-2 for the USDA; Peter M. Philippi of Skyland USA/rooflite; and 1939 Front Elevation by W. Ellis Groben.