FSEC Works With Campus Researchers on New "Green Roof" Project

A stormwater demonstration project on the roof of the newly expanded Student Union building on the University of Central Florida (UCF) campus is giving FSEC researchers the opportunity to explore some new areas of building energy efficiency.

A 1600-square-foot “green roof” has been installed on the roof of a new section of the building as part of a multi-year research project to study low-impact best management practices. UCF’s Stormwater Management Academy is leading the effort to build and monitor the new roof that uses waterproofing and drainage systems that allow a layer of vegetation to grow there. This building strategy can improve the building’s energy performance, air quality and the urban ecology while requiring no additional land.

Green roof systems cut down on heat transfer through the roof, decrease stormwater pollutants and cut down on stormwater volume by naturally evaporating the runoff through the plant respiration process.

FSEC was brought in by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to team with the campus Stormwater Management Academy researchers to study the energy impacts of the green roof. In spite of the fact that FSEC researchers have extensively studied building heat gain through roofs and ceilings, few studies have been done on green roofs. Simulations of the technique have found that the energy savings can range from 1 to 25 percent, depending on the building and the plants and soil used on the roof. FSEC’s tasks will be to provide the energy related monitoring, analysis and reporting for this project.

Jeff Sonne, who is heading up the FSEC effort, noted that “now that the green roof planting is about done and we’ve been able to install our rooftop temperature sensors, were almost ready to start collecting data.” He planned to complete the installation of the remaining sensors and data-logging equipment by the end of May, thanks to the help of Matt Branch, a UCF mechanical engineering student intern.

Sonne pointed out that FSEC will be conducting side-by-side roof temperature and heat flux comparisons with an adjacent conventional roof, as well as an assessment of any air temperature reductions above the green roof.

FSEC is also working on a related building re-commissioning project on the UCF campus. In addition to providing technical assistance to UCF’s Physical Plant office in improving the efficiency of three identified campus buildings, it is hoped that the project will begin a comprehensive re-commissioning of all UCF campus buildings by using the energy savings from this initial project to fund monitoring and modifications to the rest of the campus.

“One of the other outcomes of the related re-commissioning activity,” according to Buildings Division chair Rob Vieira, “is that we will be providing building science training to five employees of the universitys physical plant staff, and well also be conducting a four-course training series on these building strategies that are ideally suited for the Florida climate.”

The green roof at UCF is the second one sponsored by the Department of Environmental Protection. They supported one a year ago at a golf course in Bonita Bay. More information on the UCF project is available at www.stormwater.ucf.edu.

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, fuel cells and other energy areas. For more information about the center, visit www.fsec.ucf.edu or call the FSEC Public Information Office at (321) 638-1015.