With Walmart as its lab, PSU investigates how green roofs work

PSU's David Sailor surveys Walmart's green roof, which sits atop the company's new Hayden Meadows store.

Portland State University will construct a green roof research site on the top of a new Walmart store in North Portland in a bid to better understand how they work and how they can be improved.

The two-year partnership with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will allow PSU’s Green Building Research Laboratory to study the way the roof filters rainwater, enhances energy efficiency, mitigates heat island issues and improves wildlife habitat on a 40,000-square-foot installation.

The team will embed sensors and a weather station on Walmart’s new Hayden Island Meadows store along with vegetation.

The balance of the Walmart roof will have a 52,000-square-foot white membrane roof for comparison purposes.

A similar green roof in Chicago will provide comparison data to the Portland structure.

“The data we collect will help the green building industry improve upon the many benefits provided by green roof,” said David Sailor, director of PSU Green Building Research Laboratory.

The project team includes PSU's Institute for Sustainable Solutions, which provided funding, along with the city of Portland, which will monitor stormwater runoff. The Cadmus Group will offer environmental consulting while the Audubon Society of Portland will conduct bird counts.

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