Tree House Porch Goes Green
The porch on the rear of the Wissahickon Environmental Center, also known as the Tree House, is complete! Built with sustainability in mind, a green roof designed by Roofmeadow of Mt. Airy was installed in the spring of this year by Roofmeadow Services, Inc. The green roof is part of an effort to reduce the building’s impact on the Park’s sensitive habitat, as green roof systems have many environmental benefits over traditional roofs.
While the tree that grew through the porch roof could not be replaced, FOW has done its best to pay homage to the tree that used to grow through its roof. According to Stroud, FOW enhanced the Tree House theme by using tree cutouts in the railing around the porch and placing a round cutout beneath the skylight in the porch roof. FOW plans to place a “tree cookie” into the porch floor directly below the skylight. This slice of a fallen tree will be flush with the floor so visitors can walk on it. “We are trying to mimic the shape of the tree so a person can stand there and think about the tree that used to grow there,” he says.
The new Tree House porch does more than provide additional space for environmental education programs. It gives the Tree House staff the opportunity to educate visitors on the benefits of green roofs. Green roofs absorb rainwater instead of letting it, with the pollutants it carries, run into storm drains and waterways. Plants and bacteria that live in the soil filter rainwater before it flows into the landscape. Native plantings host beneficial insects and provide food and habitat for other critters. In hot summer months, green roofs absorb far less heat than traditional building materials like wood or asphalt shingles. This reduces cooling costs and overall energy consumption.