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Scientists Discuss Green Roof Solutions for New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

Groups of three worked on separate roof replacement proposals.

NEW ORLEANS—The construction of an eco-friendly green roof over the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was the topic of a scientific exercise conducted during the 50th annual American Geophysical Union Fall Conference held recently.

The exercise drew members of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX), and officials from the New Orleans Convention Center. Discussion revolved around ideas for how best to help the earth using the 1.8 million square feet of roofing the Convention Center plans to replace in the coming years.

The scientists were asked, “When is a roof more than a roof?” Raj Pandya, director of TEX answered that question by saying, “It becomes more than a roof when it becomes an amenity for the neighborhood, an energy source, and a way to clean parts of the environment while at the same time serving the needs of the Convention Center in a fundamental way.”

Bryan Hayden, Vice President of Operations at the New Orleans Convention Center, says costs for patching and spot-repairing of the Convention Center roof costs about $100,000 annually, and that replacing the entire roof is estimated to cost $20 million.

Brainstorming Sessions Took Place

The scientists in attendance broke into groups where they brainstormed different ideas and attractions that a new roof could provide. Each group then took those ideas and discussed their feasibility and potential impact on the community and environment.

Popular suggestions from those in attendance included affixing solar panels to the Convention Center roof, covering the roof with a special paint that reflects heat, and transforming the roof into a green space that produces vegetation and creates its own oxygen, all resulting in the reduction of the Convention Center’s carbon footprint.

“This was a really fascinating exercise,” said Tim Hemphill, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the New Orleans Convention Center. “When we have participated in discussions about the future of our industry, the applications are usually about changes in technology. This exercise demonstrated that science could play a bigger role in some of the issues facing the live event industry.”

The Thriving Earth Exchange helps volunteer scientists and community leaders work together to use science, especially Earth and space science, to tackle community issues and advance local priorities related to natural hazards, natural resources, and climate change.