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Growing UP ...
Green Roofs Take Landscaping To A New Level

milwaukee green roofIn urban developments where most of the land is covered with bricks and asphalt, landscaping has only one place to go. Up. All the way to the top, with green roofs becoming a popular and important part of the new Milwaukee landscape.  And David J. Frank is at the top of this trend, offering a full range of sustainable and environmentally friendly services.  Jeffrey Miller, a landscape architect and project manager with David Frank, recently completed the largest green roof on any public building in Wisconsin – the new live roof at UWM’s Golda Meir Library.

Collaborating with the construction team and univegreen roof buildersrsity officials, Miller (right) supervised the installation of nearly 50,000 square feet of green space atop the Library.  Far more than just a layer of plantings and soil, a green roof is a complex environment that includes a waterproofing and root repellant system, drainage system, filter cloth, lightweight growing medium and plants like sedum.  More intensive designs can include traditional garden elements, like raised vegetable beds, annual pots or perennial flowers, walking paths, seating areas, rainwater harvesting systems and more.  Regardless of the scope of the plan, every green roof must be painstakingly designed and installed within specific weight and water management criteria for safety and sustainability.


golda meir library roof planting on roof


According to Miller, the benefits of this and other green roofs easily justify the investment.  Incentives for building owners and developers include:

-  Energy savings through a reduction in AC use and costs;

-  Storm water management by reducing storm water run-off and incidences of combine sewer overflow;

-  Improved air quality by reducing air borne pollutants;

-  Mitigation of the Urban Heat Island Effect for more efficient use of energy with fewer emissions;

-  Positive perception of the facility as environmentally friendly makes the building/business more marketable.

The green movement at UWM is largely credited to Jim Wasley, Associate Professor of Architecture.  With his students, he developed a Stormwater Master Plan to minimize the amount of polluted rain water that was pouring off roofs, over pavement and into Lake Michigan in the heavily developed campus community.  Today with the help of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and David J. Frank, Wasley’s ideas are growing – literally – and expanding the role of landscaping in areas where there is little land.


To date, David J. Frank has brought its environmental expertise to more than a dozen major green roof projects in the Milwaukee area, including those at Bayshore apartments, Park LaFayette, Landmark on the Lake and MillerCoors.  Watch for more great projects and landscape innovations in 2012!

bayshore apartments green roof green roof by fish wall park lafayette rooftop garden landmark on the lake roof

Each week, staff members from David J. Frank's six branches and specialty divisions all meet to discuss the latest company and green industry news.  This green roof is one of many special projects managed by landscape architect Jeffrey Miller, who just returned from the 2011 CitiesAlive conference in Philadelphia and welcomes your questions about green roofs and walls.

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