SP0244: Solin Hall Green Roof

Status: ONGOING March 2020 - 


A student-accessible green roof project on the Annex at Solin Hall

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The Solin Hall Annex’s roof has reached its end of life and SHHS will be replacing it. The Annex building currently experiences issues with flooding on the ground floors and in the basement during extreme rainfall events. During winters with large swings in temperature, sudden shifts between freeze and thaw often result in leaks into apartments situated along structural support beams. As a result, there is interest in replacing the roof with one more capable of rainwater retention, and also develop a holistic rainwater management system on the property. The municipality of the Sud-Ouest (an area susceptible to flooding during extreme rainfall events) also now regulates the management of runoff stormwater in all new constructions and renovations. We seek to replace the roof of the middle section of the Annex building (the section experiencing performance issues) with a student-accessible green roof in order to manage rainwater, provide a learning space for students, and act in conjunction with the McGill and Montreal climate action and resilience plans, which emphasize green architecture.

Part One of this proposal is to replace the roof with what is determined to be the most suitable and sustainable rainwater management solution for the property. Normally, rainwater is managed by large concrete cisterns placed underground, rather than employing natural solutions such as green roofs. This project aims to intervene SHHS’ norm and replace the use of a concrete cistern with a sustainable alternative for rainwater management. A green roof, if well-implemented, also has the capacity to moderate temperatures in the building due to its insulating properties, which reduces heating and cooling, meaning energy consumption reduction overall. The best combination of rainwater management systems (rain gardens, bioswales etc.) and green architecture options for the property is to be identified by a consultant.

Additionally, this same middle section of the Annex roof is accessible, with a door, from the student residence. This has prompted interest over the past several years from students and senior admin at SHHS because that means a green roof could be made accessible to students and staff (with the only additional costs being guardrails / fencing). Consequently, regardless of the variety / type of roof solution proposed by consultants, it is a SHHS priority for the roof any garden infrastructure to be accessible to and used by students. Students, SHHS staff, academic staff, and Residence Life are all interested in providing opportunities for students to relax, study, and learn in a green common space and in developing student opportunities in urban agriculture also on the roof. Support of student programming has been confirmed with SSMU Sustainability and Residence Life, as has support for the potential food system integration component with the Director of SHHS.

Part Two of this proposal involves the addition of bioswales, rain gardens, urban trees or other similar sustainable rainwater management systems to the landscaping of the property, to ensure the entirety of the property is designed to efficiently and sustainably manage rainwater runoff.

This project, if successful, would be the first in a series of projects at other SHHS buildings to convert currently underutilized space into green common space that serves the purpose of student leisure, rainwater management, and/or food production. This aligns with McGill University’s climate resilience plan, emphasizing green infrastructure and proactive adaptation initiatives. The project also addresses internal SHHS priorities to further expand their sustainable best practices beyond the reach of their cafeteria network, and into their facilities and maintenance operations.

As it is currently unclear which runoff management systems are most suitable for the property, immediate next steps would involve a feasibility study to determine which of the green roof, rooftop greenhouse, rain garden, bioswales, or other rainwater management strategies, would be best for the property.

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shhs.sustainability [at] mcgill.ca









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