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MSU Green Roof Research Facilities

Our first research sites were the Plant Science Greenhouses and a series of 24 [1.22 m x 1.22 m (4 ft x 4 ft)] and 24 [2.4 m x 2.4 m (8 ft x 8 ft)] raised roof platforms at the Horticulture Teaching and Research Center. These test platforms were constructed by ChristenDETROIT Roofing Contractors, Detroit, MI in 2001, and were funded by Ford Motor Company.  Each platform is built per the same ASTM International standards that would be required for a commercial building and are equipped with layers of insulation, waterproofing, a green roof drainage system, root barrier, and substrate.

We were first given permission to install a research green roof on campus on the Plant and Soil Sciences Bldg in 2004, followed by the Communication Arts and Sciences Bldg (2005), the Molecular Plant Sciences Bldg (2011), and Bailey Hall (2012).  We also maintain a site near Traverse City on the Old Mission Peninsula that was installed in 2005.  Additional study sites have included three other green roofs in Michigan (Ford Truck Assembly Plant, Dearborn; Haworth Headquarters, Holland; and Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids), eleven in the Chicago area (Chicago City Hall, Lurie Garden within Millennium Park, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, Gary Comer Youth Center, 900 North Bldg, Downtown Chicago Park, McCormick Parking Structure, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Nature Museum, Michigan Avenue Structure, and Aquascape Headquarters), and four in Maryland (MDG Corporation, Columbia; Metfab, Jessup;  Renaissance Center at South River Colony, Edgewater, and Severn Savings Bank Headquarters, Annapolis).

Our research roofs span extensive to intensive roofs with plant material ranging from succulents to native perennials and grasses, vegetables, turf, and trees and shrubs.  They range in depth from 2.5 cm (1 in) to 122 cm (4 ft), in slope from 1% to 45%, in height from 0 to 15 stories, and, in size from 325 m2 (3,500 ft2) to 42,177 m2 (10.4 acres).

The MSU campus is currently home to eight green roofs:

Several platforms for research at HTRC
Horticulture Teaching and Research Center research platforms (2001)


A green roof atop the MSU Plant and Soil Sciences Building.  Pink, yellow and green in color.
Plant and Soil Sciences Bldg (2004)


Green Roof research plots atop the MSU Comm Arts Building with a door and window in the background.
Communication Arts and Sciences Bldg research plots (2005)


A Green Roof atop MSU's Molecular Plant Sciences Building.  Owen hall can be seen in the distant background.
Molecular Plant Sciences Bldg (2011)


Dense foliage on Bailey Hall - surrounded by brick walls and glass.
Bailey Hall (2012) with vegetable garden (2013)


MSU Green Roofs not pictured:

Children’s Garden Outdoor Classroom (2008)
Brody Hall (2010)
Wells Hall (2012)

Green roof platforms in the MSU Plant Science Greenhouses
MSU Plant Science Greenhouses

Barn located on the Old Mission Peninsula, Grand Traverse County, MI
Barn on the Old Mission Peninsula in Grand Traverse County, MI

5 sets of angled boxes for research on sloped green roofs.
Steep-sloped platforms located on the Old Mission Peninsula in
Grand Traverse County, MI

Large green roof - mostly green, red and white in color.  The Ford logo can be seen in background.
10.4 acre green roof at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI

Two Brown dogs in front of a Greenroof-equipped Doghouse.
Dr. Brad Rowe's doghouse, complete with Green Roof