Going Green: Waterloo Arts To Install New Green Roof And Alleyway

The corner of Waterloo Road and East 156th Street in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood. [Amy Callahan / Waterloo Arts]
The corner of Waterloo Road and East 156th Street. [Amy Callahan / Waterloo Arts]

By Lee Chilcote, The Land

Waterloo Arts, a nonprofit organization that provides arts programming and education in the Collinwood neighborhood, is installing a green roof on its building thanks to a green infrastructure grant from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). The project will not only fix the organization’s leaky roof, but it will also divert tens of thousands of gallons of rainwater from storm sewers every year.

“For 13 years our roof has been leaking, and we’ve had no way of getting it done,” said Amy Callahan, executive director of Waterloo Arts, who said she cried when she learned that NEORSD had awarded a grant for the cost of their green roof as well as a green alleyway that can be used for programming.

The new green roof will replace the old roof and add a series of sedum trays filled with succulent ground cover that will absorb rainwater and keep it from running into storm sewers. In addition, a gravel alley will be renovated into a seating area with pervious pavers (pavers that absorb rainwater). The total cost of the project is $232,435.18 including $5,500 for first-year maintenance.

Visitors at Waterloo Arts District in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood.

Waterloo Arts hosts serveral performances and art exhibits. [Amy Callahan / Waterloo Arts]

According to the application, the project at 15605 Waterloo Rd. “will mitigate stormwater runoff, extend the life of the new roof, improve the air quality and reduce the urban heat island effect in our neighborhood, and create biophilic design to improve the health and well-being of our community members. The completed project will feature both extensive and intensive green roofs, a rooftop deck, a renovated alley patio with pervious pavers, planters, a trellis with flowering vines, and a new stairway from the patio to the rooftop deck. There will also be a water harvest system that will pump water to an interior 10' x 16' green wall in the cafe space of the building and also to exterior spigots for planter and green roof irrigation. When available, the cistern water will also be used to water district street planters and pots.”

The purpose of the sewer district’s green infrastructure grant program is to “remove stormwater from the combined sewer system and reduce the release of combined sewage into the environment,” according to its website. Grants can be used for green infrastructure such as rain gardens, bioretention, pervious pavement, and other site-based stormwater management practices in the combined sewer area. The grant agreement states that the Waterloo Arts green roof will remove approximately 107,183 gallons of stormwater annually from the combined sewer system.

Aerial image of Waterloo Arts building in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood.

Google Earth image of Waterloo Arts roof (right set of buildings). [Google]

The project, which is underway now, is slated to be completed before the end of the year. After it’s done, NEORSD will install educational signage on-site to educate members of the public about the project, the grant program, and the benefits of green roofs.

In addition to its green roof and alley project, Waterloo Arts is also working on the Green Palette project, which offers resources for artists to maintain the overgrown planters on Waterloo Road and landscape them in artistic ways.


Lee Chilcote is editor of The Land.

This story was produced as part of an environmental justice reporting initiative involving partners Ideastream Public Media, The Land, The NewsLab at Kent State University, WKSU, La Mega, and the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative (NEOSOJO).

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