Sanctuary to unveil living roof project

ALPENA – The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary has been working on a unique project, but instead of working underwater, this project is on the roof. The sanctuary will be unveiling its Thunder Bay River Living Roof to the public later this summer, offering beautiful views of the Thunder Bay River from a unique setting.

The living roof is not only covered with native plant life, it is also energy efficient, with the white roof being much more efficient than the popular black covering on rooftops, reflecting heat and light, rather than absorbing it. The sanctuary also plans to install solar panels and devices to collect both wind and solar energy.

“This is an ongoing project,” Media and Outreach Coordinator Stephanie Gandulla said. “We’re looking at ways to improve the efficiency of the green roof.”

The roof follows the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification the sanctuary obtained in 2005 when the building housing the Maritime Heritage Center was designated a sustainable building by the United States Green Building Council. The sanctuary is the first National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration building in the country to achieve a LEED certification status.

“We hope to use this roof as an additional classroom for students to engage in environmental learning,” Gandulla said. “Different types of succulents and native species were planted specifically to demonstrate water use.”

The living roof was made possible by a donation to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation from Ned and Leota Lott of Northeast Michigan, and was designed and constructed with the help of Timm Construction Company LLC of Alpena.

“We’re very excited to show the roof to the public,” Gandulla said. “It’s a beautiful area and has a great view.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.