Joe Louis Arena Station Gets ”Green” Roof

Project joins list of major system improvements

DETROIT (August 5, 2008) – The aerial view of the southwest portion of Detroit’s Central Business District looks like a futuristic metropolis: a dominant skyline of large concrete and steel structures, creating a wavy, desert-like mirage in the sun. Now a cool spot has emerged at the Detroit People Mover’s (DPM) Joe Louis Arena station, complete with a 6,000 square-foot green roof.

“The installation of the green roof at the Joe Louis Arena station was undertaken at the direction of Barbara Hansen, general manager of the Detroit Transportation Corporation (DTC), owners and operators of the People Mover system. “All of us need to be more environmentally conscious and reduce our carbon footprint,” she said. “This project is one small step leading in that direction. The installation of the plant material extends the lift of the roof, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.”

CTE Engineers, DTC’s consulting engineers, prepared the technical specification for the multi-layered roof. “The temperature is definitely more pleasant,” said Shukat Alvi, PE, consulting engineer for the DTC. Alvi performed the site management for the installation of the roof, which was completed in just two days. “Less heat and cold will penetrate, reducing expansion and contraction. We see the definite benefits in having a vegetative space in the neighboring environment.”

The installation is a Xero Flor pre-cultivated green roof system, featuring a textile-based design. The Joe Louis Arena covering has 12 different species of vegetation (sedum). The mats were laid in rolls of 3 ft by 9 ft, with layers for water retention, drainage and a root barrier. Requiring a one time-fertilizer, initial maintenance includes weekly watering for the next four months. In the spring, the fleece will retain the melted snow, while remaining water is siphoned by 18 inches of pebbles or ballast on the roof’s sides to maintain vegetation and to prevent ponding or additional weight.

Green roofs remove airborne pollutants and greenhouse gases, providing acoustic buffering, production of oxygen and community beautification. Their vegetated surfaces deflect solar radiation and reduce thermal loading of roof surfaces and building structures, combining to reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect (increased regional temperatures from thermally loaded cityscapes).

“The life of a green roof is 40 years,” added Ms. Hansen.

The People Mover’s green roof joins other similar projects downtown, including the Blue Cross Blue Shield parking deck and the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, now in progress. The green roof installation occurred during the People Mover’s Rail Replacement Project. Service is suspended through August 18.


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