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rooftop greenhouses

Carl Pike c_pike at ACAD.FANDM.EDU
Thu Jun 18 15:58:39 EST 1998

I've been dealing with rooftop greenhouses (admittedly on a small scale, 2
houses each about 20x20 feet) for a long time.
        Security - no vandalism problems (unless your rock-throwers have
very strong arms), little chance of a break-in.
        Access - if your ground-level greenhouse isn't attached to the
building, then you have the problem of transporting plants into the labs
(i.e., winter).

        Water leaks into space below - an unending problem here.  but I
don't think it has to be that way.
        Orientation - the greenhouse can only face the way the building
does, so make sure you get it located the right way.  It is somewhat easier
of course to avoid tree shading problems if you're up several stories.
        Access to exterior for glass and other repairs - one sloped side of
ours is flush with the exterior wall of the building, so there is no way
for repair persons to have access to that side for glass repairs, shade
repairs, etc. We have to rent a cherry picker for the task.  Make sure
there is an adequate set back from the building wall.  Because of this
situation, a broken pane of glass on that side falls straight to the ground
and endangers pedestrians below.  So we went to tempered glass when we
reglazed the house - but the best thing is to design it so broken glass
doesn't fall straight down.  Nonetheless, in a windstorm glass flying off
the roof (no matter how it's designed) might cause some worry, but that
seems remote.

There are lots of other issues that are different in the 2 situations (such
as how are the utility lines run, etc), but I don't think they would
necessarily tip the balance much.

Harvard has had for decades a large rooftop greenhouse on the Biological
Laboratories building.  Although it's not the southeast, if you're checking
with others or visiting that might be a place to contact.

Carl S. Pike                             (717) 291-3958
Department of Biology                    FAX (717) 399-4548
Franklin and Marshall College            Internet  C_PIKE at ACAD.FANDM.EDU
P.O. Box 3003
Lancaster, PA  17604-3003  USA

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