Furbish Company designs and installs new living roof at prestigious Washington, D.C. school

Baltimore-based Furbish Company recently completed design and installation of a 7,853 SF (re-)planting of the living roof at Sidwell Friends Middle School in Washington, D.C.

After the planting of the original roof, the plants (while native to the region), unfortunately did not adapt well to the more extreme conditions of a rooftop.  Subsequently, when the decision to (re-)green the roof of the Middle School was decided, Sidwell Friends commissioned Furbish Company www.furbishco.com, established leaders in the design and installation of living roofs, to remove all of the soil from the existing roof and replace it with a different blend that is meant to enhance plant growth and drainage within a rooftop environment.

Guided by its Quaker values, Sidwell Friends is committed to practicing responsible environmental stewardship. Their curriculum is grounded in teaching students about the natural world and their relationship to it.

This roof will provide an educational laboratory for its students to learn about the issues surrounding water reuse and conservation. In many ways, the school sees the replanting as an example of the learning that takes place when experimenting with new approaches. The composition of the green roof will function to reduce the urban heat island effect and filter rainwater; Upper and Middle School science teachers and students will continue to use the site for hands-on learning and research; and visitors to the rooftop will enjoy an attractive landscape. The Middle School has been fully replanted with proven materials like sedges and sedums. The plugs were hand-planted at one-foot centers, allowing room to grow.

Plant Manager Steve Sawyer said, “The most interesting part was that Furbish Company spread cuttings randomly across the soil to fill in gaps between plugs.  These look like half-inch long pieces of succulent plant leaves that are just lying on the surface. The cuttings will eventually root and help create a ‘green’ carpet.”

The Furbish Company’s planting crew also mounded up areas of deeper soil in high interest locations to hold perennial accent plantings, such as native grasses.

As part of its contract, Furbish Company will maintain the roof over a two-year period.