Kentucky Center Plans Louisville’s Largest Green Roof

by Erica Peterson on November 28, 2011

The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts is seeking funding to replace its 15-year-old roof with something more environmentally friendly.

The Kentucky Center’s roof is about 76,000 square feet, and architects are studying how to best cover two-thirds of that area with plants. Green roofs are typically done on flat roofs, and the Kentucky Center’s roof features a notable curve. If the whole space is converted to a green roof, it would be Louisville’s largest.

The green portion could add an additional $1.5 million to the cost of roof replacement, but executive projects director Abby Shue says the potential savings are significant.

“Just the warranty alone of a living roof versus a regular roof is double in time,” she said. “And additionally there will be energy savings over time. So it is an additional upfront cost, but we really feel that the long term benefits to the center over time will make that worthwhile.”

Cash Moter is an architect with Louisville firm Joseph and Joseph. He says covering both the flat parts of the roof and the distinctive sloped barrel vault will help raise awareness of the benefits of green roofs.

“It would be a great example to show,” he said. “The visibility of it—the flat portions, with the tall buildings around, of course, will get good visibility, but the barrel vault itself will be something that will definitely be eye-catching. And it’ll be innovative. Whatever solution we come up with, it’s going to be new.”

Green roofs are expensive, but advocates say they save money in the long term by reducing heating costs and rainwater runoff. The funding for the Kentucky Center’s new roof is still unknown. The center—which is owned by the state—is seeking money from the General Assembly, and the Metropolitan Sewer District has pledged some support.

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