Boston, Massachusetts

Sarnafil Roof Yields Energy Savings, Waterproofing and Radishes

It figures that someone at Harvard Business School (HBS) would know how to get the best return on its investment when it comes to roofs. That’s why HBS aimed high and replaced a small, existing green (vegetated) roof with a much larger one that would cover 11,000-square feet of a multi-tiered roof shared by McArthur Hall and the McCollumCenter in Boston. This new roof keeps the buildings watertight and grows a diverse meadow including herbs and vegetables like calendula, fennel, wild carrots and radishes — of which 400 pounds of daikon radishes were harvested and served in the school’s dining halls the first year. The team continues to experiment with other wild vegetable crops such as garlic, beets, watermelons and winter squash. 


Harvard Business School

Green Roof Contractor
Recover Green Roofs, LLC
Somerville, Massachusetts

Roofing Contractor
Gilbert & Becker Co., Inc.
Dorchester, Massachusetts

General Contractor
Lee Kennedy Co., Inc.
Quincy, Massachusetts

Roofing System
Green Roof System using adhered
60 mil Sarnafil G 410 membrane in White

Project Size
11,000 square feet

Harvard Business School Green Roof
Harvard Business School Right Ingredients
Selecting the Right Ingredients

The first task was selecting the right materials for the new roof membrane that would act as the waterproofing layer. It was decided to use the Sarnafil G 410 EnergySmart Roof Membrane, due to its track record and reputation. “The Sarnafil system is the best system you could possibly put down,” said John Marcone, vice president and project manager at Gilbert & Becker Co., Inc., of Dorchester, Massachusetts, the roofing contractor. 

Harvard Business School Setting The Table
Setting the Table

The installation of the new green roof began with removal of the existing green roof, during which Recover recycled all the growing media, saved drainage components for other projects and dug up and boxed existing plants for Harvard to use for a campus-wide plant giveaway. Then the existing EPDM roof membrane was removed, and Gilbert & Becker installed a fully adhered vapor barrier to the concrete deck, followed by some tapered insulation and a cover board. After this, the Sarnafil PVC membrane was fully adhered.

Harvard Business School The Feast
Preparing the Feast

Perhaps the biggest reason for the success of the project was the teamwork between all parties – including Recover, Gilbert and Becker, HBS, Lee Kennedy and Sika Roofing.“I can’t speak highly enough about the entire team,” Leonard remarked.“I was also very impressed with Recover Green Roofs. They were very knowledgeable, very accommodating and they were on schedule and on budget.” It was this professionalism that earned Recover Roof first place in the Waterproofing Category of Sika Roofing’s 2016 Project of the Year competition.

Harvard Business School Enjoying
Enjoying the Bounty

Today the roof is leak-free and producing lots of organic foods for Harvard students and faculty. “During its first year, the roof reaped 400 pounds of radishes,” Musso stated. “We are continuing to experiment with more food plants, like garlic and winter squash, and are looking forward to harvesting more food and herbs from our green roofs.”

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