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Rocketts Landing Going Green on Top

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Anybody want a Chia house?

Officials with Rocketts Landing, one of the area's most cutting-edge urban redevelopment projects, will announce this week that 41 planned townhouses — 20 of which are to be built before spring — will feature "green roof" technology.

Among three green roof options to be offered, two will boast live plants as the visible roofing material. None will require mowing, according to the builder.

Though a handful of privately built homes in Richmond boast green roofs, the Rocketts Landing project is the first to incorporate green roofs as part of such a large residential project.

"Green roofs have become a very important building feature for both residential and commercial construction," says Roger C. Peterson, whose Glen Allen-based construction company has been contracted by Rocketts Landing to build the townhouses. He points to various projects in Europe and "whole cities in China" that use the technique to reduce overall environmental impact from construction.

The all-brick townhouses will be priced between $475,000 and $755,000, depending in part on the roof option.

The options include a roof covered with reflective material or planted with sedum, a hardy, drought-resistant ground-cover plant. To minimize care requirements, the sedum is planted in a high-tech spongelike material that absorbs and retains moisture. Buyers can also opt for a full-blown rooftop Eden, Peterson says: "You could, in fact, garden in it if you want to."

Bearing in mind that gardening requires tilling the soil, which requires gardening implements, Peterson says pains are taken in the design to guard against mishaps. "There's an impact layer under the soil so Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner can't drive a shovel through it," he says.

Peterson estimates the green roofs will increase energy efficiency by 30 percent, while the garden material can absorb a similar percentage of water runoff. S

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