Club to sponsor green roof

Elaine Kim, Staff Writer

Greenbriar Elementary School is a local school that has a green roof. It is currently barren but normally grows prairie grass. The initial green roof at Glenbrook North is scheduled to be built throughout the summer of 2018. Photo by Richard Chu

A love for environmental science and an interest in sustainability for her community proved to be the foundation needed for senior Sara Chen, co-president of Environmental Awareness Club, to grow a plan.

“What people think of when they think ‘green roof,’ or like a rooftop garden, is huge plants that you can go walk along or sit by,” said Chen. “It’s actually the opposite of that    it’s small plants that will absorb water to reduce [water] run-off into the North Branch of the Chicago River.”

The roof is designed to initially hold 20 rectangular trays of plants, lined up in rows to form one large rectangular shape, with space for more trays to be added later.

The club plans to place the trays on the roof above the SA Hall before the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

As of April 11, the District #225 Board of Education has not approved the plan due to a delay in ensuring the roof would be able to support the weight of the trays.

Jeffrey Kallay, co-sponsor of Environmental Awareness Club, said the project was organized by the club, with Chen as the student leader, and advised with fellow co-sponsor Bud Mathieu. Students in Plant Science and AP Environmental Science will help put the plants into the trays. Since students will not be allowed on the roof, the maintenance staff will bring the trays up to the roof.

According to Mathieu, the green roof is a good idea to improve the aesthetics and the water flow of the building. The plants will collect rainwater and then any excess water that the plant cannot hold will drain out of the trays. From the trays, the water travels off of the roof and then falls to the ground to be reabsorbed. This process will contribute to a cost-effective measure.

Chen said the roof will have numerous benefits for the school in terms of appearance, positive environmental effects and money saving techniques.

In general, environmental effects aside, recent research has shown just having greenery nearby in a student’s general surroundings really does help promote students’ concentration and ability to focus,” Chen said.

According to Mathieu, the club decided on sedum as the main plant that would be included on the roof.

Sedum is [a part of a] group of plants called succulents, which are low-growing, very tough and hardy plants,” said Mathieu. “We want it to be as maintenance-friendly as possible, so if they can survive a drought for like two months, then we don’t have to run out there and water them.”

Kallay said the club will be holding a series of fundraisers until the end of April to collect money for the construction of the roof.

According to Mathieu, one fundraiser the club is planning to do is a car wash, but money in the club’s budget will also pay for part of the $2,000 cost.

Kallay said everything in the green roof project has an environmental focus or perspective for the school, such as bringing more green plants to the area.

Through this project, we tried to follow one of the mantras of environmentalists, which is ‘Think globally, act locally.’”