Clinton Presidential Library Builds ‘Green’ Roof

November 18, 2007

Ex-president's complex first to earn an award for environmental design

Little Rock, Ark. - Bill Clinton likes to brag about his presidential library
being an eco-friendly building.

Now even the roof is going green.

Over the past two weeks, workers have been hoisting 90 species of plants and
more than four truckloads of soil atop the William J. Clinton Presidential
Library and Museum to create a garden on an area surrounding Clinton’s penthouse apartment.

Instead of bare concrete, the glass and steel building will be topped with
strawberries, ferns, switch grass, roses and other greenery.

“This is just an area he can come and relax in and just enjoy the view,” Clinton
Foundation Facilities and Operations Director Debbie Shock said in a recent
interview on the roof.

However, it’s not just for looks. That layer of soil and plants will provide
insulation and capture rainwater that otherwise would just be wasted as runoff.
Clinton — who has used his nonprofit foundation to promote sustainable
development and environmentally friendly building practices — would like to see
green roofs used nationwide. He recently announced a program through his
foundation aimed at helping homeowners and commercial building owners modernize
their buildings to reduce energy use.

“When President Clinton built his library here, part of what he wanted was
something that would serve as an example to others, both in design and
architecture, but also in sustainability and its footprint and its coexistence
with the city landscape,” Clinton Foundation spokesman Jordan Johnson said.
Award-winning complex

The $165 million library complex is the first presidential library to earn an
award from the U.S. Green Committee for environmental design. Flooring is made
from recycled rubber tires, solar panels sit on another section of the roof and
the parking lot has bicycle racks and charging stations for electric cars.

When it opened in 2004, the library earned a “silver” rating under the
Leadership Energy Environmental Design, the benchmark for environmentally
friendly buildings. Earlier this month, it earned a “platinum” certification for
continuing projects on its existing buildings.

Shock and other foundation workers pointed out some of the benefits of replacing
an ordinary flat roof with a garden planted in soil 3 inches to 9 inches thick.
“All of a sudden, instead of having a roof that water continually runs off of,
now you’ve got a rain mat underneath here that will actually irrigate these
plants. It actually becomes a control for your stormwater runoff,” Shock said.
“It’s not only for enjoyment, but it’s got a lot to do with the environment and
how we control our stormwater runoff.”

If the plants need any extra water, the library can turn on a buried irrigation
system that will use 90 percent less water than common sprinklers or hoses.
Garden to be maintained in eco-friendly manner

Shock said the garden also will be maintained in an eco-friendly manner. That
means no gasoline-powered mowers and no chemicals.

“We’re not using any pesticides. All of our fertilizers are organic,” Shock said.

The gardening team also added a sentimental touch by planting the favorite
flower of his mother, the late Virginia Kelley.

“His mom loved yellow roses, and he always gave her yellow roses for any
holidays so we’re giving back to him some yellow roses,” Shock said.

Although the garden will not be open to library visitors, Shock hopes to have
exhibits describing the roof and how it helps the environment. And she would
like to share the garden’s herbs and vegetables with visitors.

“When the president’s here, we’d love to have him throw in some green onions or
some scallion in his scrambled eggs,” Shock said. “But we’re also hoping we can
pick some and take it down to the cafe and let them use it and let our visitors
experience a little bit from our green roof.”


Promoting Green Building Design, Construction and Operation, Sustainable Living,
Clean Technology, Renewable Energy Resources and Energy Independence