Walla Walla Hospital Installing Living Roof - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Walla Walla Hospital Installing Living Roof

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla is going to new heights for patients. In fact, they're going all way to the roof.

"On Tuesday, this is going to be covered all in green sedums that comes in rolls that we're gonna roll out. It's already in a nursery," said Tremco Field Advisor Larry Lehrke.

The old uninspiring gravel is being shipped out, and a new living vegetative roof is being installed. Director of Public Affairs Kathleen Obenland says it was an easy decision to make once they learned the new roof can have health benefits.

"There's been studies that have actually shown that patients who have a more pleasing view, need less pain medication, they feel better, heal faster," Obenland said.

Obenland adds the benefits will continue to trickle down for the rest of the hospital. "Reduce storm water run off, it gives you a lot of energy conservation, it reduces the amount your spending on power," she said.

The non-traditional roofs are already popular in Portland and Seattle, but this will be the first of its kind in Walla Walla. For a hospital that has already been recognized for it's environmental efforts, Obenland says they're proud to keep pushing the green envelope.

"We believe that as a member of the community, it's important to be environmentally friendly, and it's part of our mission and values," she said.

Phase 1 of the roof will be completed next week, but it's just the beginning of more changes to come.

"As we move on down the years and have additional funds to spend on this roof, we're talking about actually adding murals on the exposed walls, concealing more rooftop units, so this is a project in motion, " Lehrke said.

Despite its beauty, Obenland says the living roof will be closed off to the public. Administrators aren't quite sure how much the hospital will save with the new roof, but the project is slated to cost about $600,000.