You may not realize it if you are walking or driving, but there is plenty of vegetation at the corner of Third and Court streets.
That's because it sits atop the roofs that make up the various levels of the Berks Community Foundation building.
"The thinking behind the green roof is it was all part of what we went through to make this certified as a green building," said Jason Brudereck, director of communication at the foundation. "It is LEED-certified at the platinum level, and that is the highest it could be."
Since 2009, the same year the building was constructed, three separate roofs on the second and third floors have been covered with vegetation to help the building operate more efficiently from an energy-saving perspective.
"The green roofs help insulate the building in all weather," Brudereck said. "And they also don't absorb the sun to heat the building in the summer."
The third roof serves another purpose.
"The very top level roof is a flat roof that collects water, and that water fills a 5,000-gallon cistern," he said. "The water is used for toilet flushing."
"All of the roofs here are green in some capacity."
Hospital Green Roof
More recently, Reading Health System in West Reading had a green roof installed on its Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical and Patient Care building.
Dave Major, director of facilities and construction management, said it has enhanced a healing garden the hospital used to offer at ground level.
"A portion of the green roof replaces and expands by four times the old healing garden," Major said, adding this is one of several positives that have come from making the decision to have a green roof.
As of Oct. 17, the healing garden began providing patients easy access to a natural, relaxing space to use outdoors.
"It is primarily used by our oncology patients, but all of our patients have access to it," Major said. "It you walked on the roof, you wouldn't even know you were on a roof."
Reading HealthPlex's 88,000-square-foot green roof is the largest of its kind in Pennsylvania and the third-largest green roof on a health care building in the United States, Major said.
"We basically reduced that roof footprint by 72 percent of which is now green instead of what would be a roof," Major said.
Reducing the heating and cooling costs in the building below the green roof has been another benefit.
"The green roof will also reduce storm water runoff, reducing the threat of storm sewer overflows and returning cleaner water to the surrounding watershed," he said.
On Monday, the southern portion of the green roof at Reading HealthPlex will be completed.
Major said the overall project wasn't difficult to sell to the administration and board of directors.
"Engineering aspects and construction aspects fell to the wayside because it was absolutely the right thing to do," he said.