Natural Beauty and Green Technology at Green & Main

Johanna Hoffman

Johanna Hoffman

Beauty and Sustainability

What is beauty?  Who “gets” it? Why have we, as a society, put so much stock in what is “beautiful” that we easily ignore our health, finances, family and other valued portions of our life to achieve that which is considered beautiful?

Let’s take the Green & Main Initiative for example.  As seen through the eyes of someone who lives in the neighborhood yet whose interests are such that they have come to appreciate the simplicity of freshly painted walls, 50-year guaranteed roofing shingles, newly paved concrete driveway and underground sprinkler system as guidelines to a beautiful project may see this initiative as anything BUT able to fit into any one of those categories.  Take yet another neighbor who has learned to appreciate abstract art, building history and aesthetics, sustainability and the “chi” they feel.  Neither neighbor feels that their outlook is particularly beautiful as individual components, but when each neighbors components are all married together, make the beauty they enjoy.

As quoted by Green & Main project innovator and owner, Chaden Halfhill, “People are starting to expect some shade of green in their housing like they used to expect a two-car garage or a certain number of bedrooms.”  Will this “shade of green” be enough to keep the variation of neighbors feeling it meets their individual ideas of beauty?  We certainly hope so.

Crosscut view of soil and live plant material for the vegetative roof

Crosscut view of soil and live plant material for the vegetative roof.

Incorporating Green Beauty

One way the initiative is incorporating beauty is by the addition of a natural, vegetative roof.  Rooftop Sedum will be assisting Green & Main with the native, indigenous plant material needed to incorporate the efficiencies of the vegetative roof with a pleasing aesthetic look and feel.  As seen by the examples, vegetative rooftop designs can be easy to maintain.  Native plants are to be handpicked by Rooftop Sedum and professionally installed, per LEED and city specifications, and then maintained by the building owner, in this case Indigo Dawn.

Some of the benefits of having native plant material on your roof:

  • More aesthetically pleasing than gravel, tar or asphalt
  • Reduces the “urban island heat effect”
  • Up to 40 decibel reduction in indoor noise, especially benefiting those who live next to an airport
  • Helps reduce the risk of fire
Vegetative Roof, Urban

Vegetative roof in an urban setting.

Rooftop Sedum is located in Davenport, IA.  Since its inception in 2006, they grow plants native to Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.  Being a member of the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) was one of the primary reasons they were chosen to provide this product for the Green & Main Initiative.

It is with a great deal of time and patience that we have begun to see the progress on the ‘ole building at 19th & Center.  It’s actually becoming quite pleasing.  Straight lines of the addition walls as they are being built handshaking with the dirt work being done for the foundation progress. “Keep it up boys, we are on our way!”

Beautiful?  We think so.


– Johanna Hoffman is a database administrator and project manager for Indigo Dawn and the Green & Main Pilot Project. She likes to make smoothies with avocados and fruit, enjoying them in the evening on her second-floor patio.

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