BrightView creates 17,000-square foot green roof in Texas

The roof of Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin now features 7,000 plants. Photo: BrightViewThe roof of Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin now features 7,000 plants.
Photo: BrightView

The Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin now has a green roof, thanks to the work of BrightView Landscape Development, along with Hensel Phelps Construction, Sasaki Associates and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

The 17,000-square foot green roof has 7,000 individual plants, along with 500 cubic yards of lightweight soil and a gravel perimeter for drainage. To accommodate plants with larger roots systems, crews with BrightView built 600-pound sections of pre-cast curbing to create raised beds with varying depths.

The materials needed for the green roof were hoisted by crane and a custom tractor lift attachment was used to move supplies around on the roof.

“We partnered with Hensel Phelps and were able to use their crane after hours and on weekend to lift our materials,” said John Faske, Assistant Branch Manager at BrightView Development.

The BrightView team used colored irrigation flags to map out planting patterns in 5-by-5-foot grids that held six to seven plant varieties. Aesthetics, function and mature plant size were considered when designing the green roof. Afterwards, wildflower seeding was added to enhance the plantings.

The roof serves as an experimental space for researchers at the Wildflower Center to evaluate materials and methods used on the project through site visits and sensors to monitor the roof’s performance.

“The green roof provides great scenery from higher floors of the building as well as energy benefits and a living laboratory for researchers,” said Jeff Lennon, senior vice president at BrightView. “Our team has also installed green roofs in Dallas and San Antonio and is thrilled to see a demand for these projects across the state.”

BrightView recently finished a similar project at another University of Texas campus and is also working on four other projects that include balcony plantings. The green roof at the Dell Medical School has been submitted for a Texas Excellence in Landscaping (TEIL) award from the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.

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