In July 2012 Piedmont Conservation Council was awarded a grant from the Environmental Enhancement Grant Program to perform the Phase I design of a green roof to be installed at the Durham Ag Building at 721 Foster Street. The Ag Building is in the headwaters of the Neuse River Basin. Its immediate watershed is Ellerbe Creek which has been listed on the NC DENR 303(d) list since 1998 as impaired. The water quality degradation is largely the result of land development without appropriate stormwater management practices. DENR maintains that urban non-point source pollution is the most significant source of water quality impairment for Ellerbe Creek.
Green roofs fall under the category of structural BMPs. By covering an impervious surface with one that mimics groundcover, green roofs can retain significant volumes of stormwater, thereby reducing flooding or destructive storm flows downstream. In addition to these structural benefits, green roofs reduce the concentration of urban airborne pollutants in stormwater runoff. In addition to helping alleviate these water quality issues, green roofs have a proven track record of reducing energy use associated with cooling commercial buildings, re-establishing habitat in dense urban environments, and reducing the "heat island effect" experienced in cities of all sizes.
The design process began with a Structural Assessment conducted by Lysaght & Associates and pre-installation monitoring of rainfall and pollutants by Duke University. As the process winds down, PCC is pursuing the remaining construction funds needed to implement Phase II of the project. PCC has assembled a network of stakeholders to consult on the design and potential for outreach and education provided by this project. Stakeholders include: Durham SWCD, City of Durham, Durham City/County Sustainability Office, Durham County Engineering, Durham County General Services, Duke University, American Rivers, Cooperative Extension, Downtown Durham Incorporated, and more.