Dunwoody, Ga. — Pollinators and campers at the Dunwoody Nature Center summer camp are getting good use of the Center’s new Crean Eco Classroom building this summer.  The building, dedicated in January, has been used as a homebase each week this summer by a class of eager campers exploring and learning about nature.  In addition to its benefits to humans, thousands of local pollinators from butterflies and moths to bees and hummingbirds have been attracted to the blooming native flowers on the building’s green roof as well.  

Besides the green roof, the building’s other sustainable claim to fame is that it was built from two repurposed shipping containers. The metal shell of the containers provide ample strength to support the extra weight added by the green roof.  The building was built and funded jointly by the City of Dunwoody and the Dunwoody Nature Center and dedicated in honor of the Dennis and Marie B. Crean family.  The Crean’s were original and are longstanding supporters of the Nature Center. The classroom is used for a variety of educational purposes in addition to summer camp. 

The green roof was completed this Spring and features a variety of native plants beneficial to pollinators year round. The roof was designed and installed by local environmental horticulturist Mary Ann Uhlmann and her company Urban Horticulture Consulting. Green roofs have several economic and ecological advantages. They control a building’s climate and aid natural irrigation and rainwater absorption, which reduces the degradation caused by excessive stormwater runoff. Flat roofs and terraces make ideal homes for green roofs.  

“There is no greater joy for me than to be on a roof and see butterflies, bees, and birds,” said Uhlmann. “It allows me to see nature being brought back to urban and suburban areas. Green roofs can be a little oasis in a desert of buildings.”

The building’s sustainable design elements were highlighted by the Dunwoody Sustainability Committee as it sought recognition for the City as part of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Green Communities certification program. Those efforts paid off as the City was upgraded to the Gold Level status earlier in February.

The classroom and green roof are located just off the parking lot in a highly visible spot.  “The building was designed to educate by itself with the added benefit of allowing us to teach within it,” said Nature Center Executive Director Michael Cowan who also serves as the Chairman of the Dunwoody Sustainability Committee.  “The building allows us to continue our efforts to foster pollinator protection initiatives and will serve as a catalyst for the installation of more native plant pollinator gardens and other sustainable building elements.”

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