This is the roof of the Onondaga County Convention Center and it hosts one of the largest green or garden roofs in the northeast: Aan acre and a half roof system aimed at stemming storm water runoff.
"Right now, what we’re trying to do is understand how a green roof works, how it behaves, how it performs under different conditions. Even though there are a lot of green roofs around the country, there have been very few studies looking at how they work," said Professor Cliff Davidson, Syracuse University and Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems.
Professor Davidson and his students want to know what happens to the water when it rains or snows.
"How much of it is absorbed into the growth medium? How much of it is stored in that growth medium? How much is stored in the plants and how much goes down the drain? How much is evapotransporated off the plants on the surface? We don’t know those things right now," Davidson said.
But they’re pretty sure there will be a big difference from buildings without a green roof.
Davidson said, "Yes, there’s a certain storage capacity of that growth medium and a certain storage capacity of the plants, so we know that there will be less water running down the roof drains compared to a normal roof and, of course, that’s where we get the benefit."
Data is being collected using a roof mounted precipitation measurement gauge, a weather station and other equipment as well as water flow meters installed in these drainage pipes inside the convention hall.
"All the data will be made available online through the Save the Rain web site. We’re in collaboration with Onondaga County and Syracuse University. We will be developing educational modules as well for use by the public and education system," said Mallory Squire, a PhD student at Syracuse University.