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Providence St. Mary to be first in Walla Walla to install a living, green roof

October 19, 2012

Providence St. Mary Medical Center will become the first facility in Walla Walla installing a living, environmentally friendly vegetative roof Oct. 29. The vegetative roof replaces a graveled rooftop.

The $590,000 project is part of the medical center’s commitment to the environment and conservation. Providence St. Mary recently received the $mart Business Award from the Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce for its green efforts.

The hospital’s current roof is close to the end of its life, and needs replacing. Rather than installing another similar roof, Providence St. Mary is investing in a living vegetative roof. The roof will be a carpet of very short, dense secums, a type of plant. They provide good, practical coverage, but do not create a park or garden. The roof will not be used for recreation.

The first section to be done will be over the Operating Suites. Work began preparing the roof in September, and the mat of vegetation will go on Oct. 29 to Nov. 2.

The advantages of green roofs are numerous to the environment, power utilization, and hospitalized patients, according to Liz Hart, a Sustainable Technologies Specialist with Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance. Benefits include:

  • The vegetation drinks in a great deal of the water from rain and snow, significantly reducing storm water runoff.
  • The plants keep the roof cooler, which in turn reduces the amount of power needed to cool the building. Providence St. Mary’s heating and air conditioning units are on the roof. The hotter the surface of the roof, the harder they must work in the summer to cool the air and the more power they draw. On a 90 degree day, a regular roof can heat to over 170 degrees. With a vegetative roof, the temperature is much cooler. The vegetation also ads a layer of insulation. Hart noted that a green roof can reduce power usage by up to 25 percent in the winter, and 75 percent in the summer.
  • A green roof can double or even triple the life of the roof itself because it protects the roofing membrane – the layer that keeps roofs from leaking. The green roof has a watering system to keep the plants healthy, and occasionally has to be weeded. While this does require maintenance, because of the protective layer of plants the roof doesn’t have to be repaired as frequently as a more traditional roof.
  • It has significant benefits for patients. Instead of looking out on an expanse of gravel, patients in the Family Birth Center and on the west side of the Intensive Care Unit will look out upon a sea of green plants. Studies have found that the view from a window measurably influences health. A pleasant view – like of a vegetative rooftop – can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and create a general feeling of increased satisfaction. Hart noted that some studies indicate that patients experience fewer post-operative complications and need less pain medication.

Providence St. Mary Medical Center, a 142-bed regional hospital located in Walla Walla, Wash., is the fourth largest employer in Walla Walla County. The Providence Medical Group is the largest group of primary care providers and specialists in the Walla Walla area.

News Release

For immediate release

Contact: Kathleen Obenland, Director of Public Affairs

Providence St. Mary Medical Center

401 W. Poplar St. Walla Walla, WA 99362