Building Trades Students Visit “Green” Roofing Project

In various media environmentalists always talk about “going green” as a way to improve our environment by reducing our carbon footprint. There are many ways to do so. One is to use grasses and plants on roofs.

On October 27th a group of twenty students from Pike-Lincoln Tech Center’s Building Trades program in Troy were the guests of Cannon Builders to see just such a roofing project. The work was being done on a portion of a Missouri Conservation Department building in Jefferson City.

Nick Martin, who heads Cannon’s commercial construction division, shared information about the scope of the federally-funded, 120-day, $1.3 million project with the students. They had to remove soil already on the roof, install aluminum framing and drains, put down a membrane, rock and then 9” of growing medium. Lightweight, composite pavers were laid as a walking path around the raised beds.

Students asked about the drainage and the weight of the soil. The drain tiles lead water into a holding tank which slowly releases it into traditional storm drains. The medium used, per the specifications, is extremely lightweight.

An architect and engineer with the Conservation Department fielded questions from the students. When asked, they indicated the cost of this type of roofing is much more than traditional roofing. Since the Department advocates the use of green roofs, particularly in urban areas, they wanted to demonstrate their use of such to the public. The reasons a green roof was used are to increase insulation value, cut down on runoff which causes erosion, and for demonstration purposes to show a variety of suitable plants and grasses.

Martin, a member of the program’s advisory committee, told the students what he looks for when hiring a worker. He said his company often hires graduates from Pike-Lincoln Tech as carpenters. He likes to observe them in class and is looking for those who stand out with their work ethic, knows the next step in the process and is ready to move on. He looks for a person who he believes can ultimately become a superintendent.

Gordon Downs, their Building Trades instructor, said about the trip, “It was a great opportunity for the students to see a green building project as they don’t have that opportunity in our area. Also, Nick did a nice job of giving the students insight about the variety of jobs available with general contractors and what education is required.”

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