Largest Living Roof Helps Prepare the Futures Brightest Students in the East Bay

The largest living and green roof installation in the state of California isn’t where you would think it would be. It’s not on the top of the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco, nor is it on the greenest building in Silicon Valley. It’s installed on the Korematsu Middle School, located here in the East Bay in El Cerrito, CA. A green roof is a natural fit for a healthy learning environment. The project has been very successful and is helping to reduce waste every day. It also reduces the school’s impact on the planet and saves money on energy bills that can be reinvested into our instructional program.


Former elementary school transitioned to the now middle school, was driven by the Collaborative for High Performance (CHPS) standards. Keith Holtslander, director of facilities and construction for West Conta Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD), states, “The WCCUSD Board of Eduction had Korematsu built with the CHPS standards because kids learn better with good lighting, clean air and comfortable classrooms.” Over 15,000 square feet of drought-tolerant sedum plants were already fully grown when it was installed, which made it immediately functional for the school. The benefits beautified the property, while reducing the schools environmental footprint.

Sedum plants, also known as stone crops, come from a large genus of flowering plants with over 600 species. They are succulents plants, that are great for the environment because of their water retaining leaves, and require low maintenance. It’s most preferred over grass because they an thrive on limited water sources, in our drought ridden state.


Green roofs provide numerous, significant environmental benefits. Some of the benefits, Korematsu will get over time from the installation are:

  • The potential of reducing heating and cooling costs by 14%
  • Provides fire protection
  • Interior noise pollution can be reduced by up to 40 decibels, so students can concentrate on what they’re learning in the classroom
  • Air filtration is improved as plants capture air pollutants, creating a cleaner and healthier outdoor environment for students.
  • Plant photosynthesis reduces greenhouse gases in the air

“As the Collaborative for High Performance Schools gains momentum, we enthusiastically support the creation of water and energy-smart schools,” said Tom Hawkins of Florasource, Ltd. “Children are the direct beneficiaries of our conservation and sustainability efforts and it’s up to us to ensure their futures and their own children’s futures remain green and bright.”

In a conscious effort to support local business, the contributors of this project are locally sourced here in Northern California. FloraSource worked together with Meadowland Nurseries, based in Watsonville, helped to provide the sedum plants. while Hibser-Yamauchi Architects, helped to design the sustainable school, which recently earned a Bronze Award for its design work at Korematsu.

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