Downtown Austin high-rise getting green roof


by ANDREW CHUNG and Photojournalist JOHN FISHER / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndrewC_KVUE

Posted on July 27, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 10 at 1:49 PM

AUSTIN -- The construction materials are ready to go on the 15th floor roof of 816 Congress.

There's not much to see right now - but by mid-to-late September, this downtown Austin high-rise will have a green roof on the 15th floor. Construction started eight weeks ago.
Once it's finished, that roof will have a terrace - including a lawn, plants, and even trees - spanning more than 12,000 square feet. People who work at this high-rise will have a place to relax when they take a break. 
While the high-rise was built in 1983, designing the green roof began about a year and a half ago. Daniel Woodroffe is the president and founder of DWG Landscape Architecture in Austin. His company designed the green roof. 
He says planting vegetation on top of a roof keeps it cooler - and reduces the building's energy costs.
"A project of this type, with a corporate office building, is in my opinion, unique - unique nationally. To have an existing building do a renovation of this type - it's one of a kind," he said. 
Woodroffe says water collected from the building's air conditioning unit will be used for the roof's vegetation. 
"We have a tank on the roof that over the course of the year will capture up to 182,000 gallons of water. That gets siphoned through the building and is the irrigation system for this roof," he explained.
Because of the Texas heat, native plants will be used on this green roof.
Lambeth Townsend works in the building and is excited about the new terrace. "We've all looked at these various decks and thought, 'Well, why aren't we able to go out on the deck?' So this is a great project; I look forward to its completion - [I] plan to use it," he said. 
It’s just a matter of time before the downtown Austin roof becomes an oasis in the sky.