The greening of City Hall continues

OLYMPIA — The green roof on Olympia’s new City Hall is getting bigger and greener.

A crane hoisted soil onto the building’s roof Wednesday to be used to plant a carpet of rain-thirsty sedums, an expansion of an existing green roof installed this year. Johnson Bros. Landscaping of Tenino, which worked on the original green roof, is doing the new work as well.

The garden is separated from the original one, and sits in front of the employees’ lunchroom.

All this green costs some green — about $20,000, said Kathy Nolet, a project coordinator in the city’s Public Works department. Olympia has spent roughly $50 million for the City Hall project, according to the city.

Ironically, a green feature of the building is the problem, and another green feature is the solution. The building’s roof is painted light gray to reflect light for energy savings, but it had an unforeseen consequence — blinding the employees in the lunch room with its reflections on a sunny day.

Nolet said that’s the biggest reason why the project is happening. “It’s really bright,” she said.

But “it’s more than just looks,” Nolet said. It serves an environmental purpose.

A green roof contains bins of extremely porous and lightweight soil that hold water for plants to absorb. That means water is naturally purified on the roof, meaning less water runoff with pollutants it picks up along the way.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com