Thursday, April 04, 2013

Green Roof Performance Monitoring


BOURNE, MA, April 4, 2013 — Amherst College in Western Massachusetts has installed a series of research-grade, web-based weather stations to monitor the performance of two green roof demonstration plots for its new science center.

The college plans to cover the rooftop of the new building with vegetation to help offset interior cooling costs, and help the four-story, 250,000-square-foot facility blend in with its natural surroundings. The building, which is estimated to open in 2018, will house the college's various science departments and programs.

Green roofs are an increasingly-popular means to absorb rainwater, provide insulation, offer a habitat for wildlife, and lower urban air temperatures. Vegetation, which can completely or partially cover the roof, is planted over a waterproof membrane. These living roofs typically include drainage and irrigation systems.

Four web-based HOBO® U30 weather stations from Onset, a Massachusetts-based company, are being used to help track local weather conditions to determine the most prolific vegetation varieties for the college's proposed green roof.

The stations, which feature double-weatherproof enclosures, are outfitted with plug-in soil moisture and temperature sensors that were installed in the roof's soil matrix at various depths. They also include sensors for measuring air temperature, wind speed, wind direction, relative humidity, rainfall, barometric pressure, and solar-radiation data. The units are affixed to the top of an 8-foot shade wall, from which they transmit data wirelessly to the college's computer network via HOBOlink, a cloud-based data access service hosted by Onset. This allows for remote access to data on a 24/7 basis.

"Remote access to data is key to the success of this study because it eliminates sneaker traffic from the team's office in Boston to the site on campus," said Gregory Johnson, president at Vermont-based Kilawatt Technologies and consultant on the project. "In addition, members of the design team on the West Coast can access the data instantly."

The HOBO U30 weather stations can also be configured to send text and email alerts when measurements hit high and low values that exceed set tolerance.

The weather stations are collecting data from the demonstration plots every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, for the duration of the 2012-2013 growing season. The data collected by the stations will help determine specific air temperatures, humidity levels, and moisture levels that yield the healthiest plants, and gauge how the green roof is performing.

Onset is the world's leading supplier of data loggers. The company's HOBO data logger and weather station products are used around the world in a broad range of applications, including building energy performance monitoring, water resources management, and ecological and agricultural research. Based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Onset has sold more than 2 million data loggers since the company's founding in 1981. Visit Onset on the web at

Kilawatt Technologies, based in Shelburne, Vermont, provides a data-centric, statistically-based, energy and environmental management program. The methods involve continuous trending and analysis of energy and interior environmental data for commercial, multi-family, and industrial buildings. Visit Kilawatt on the web at

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