Ski Resort Life

Mt. Washington Resort's New "Green Roof"

The Bretton Woods, NH, resort is building a new Spa & Conference Center which will have a roof with rare alpine plant life to increase water and energy efficiency.

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BRETTON WOODS, NH – October 17, 2008 –

Mount Washington Resort, located in Bretton Woods, NH, is on the verge of completing a $50 million renovation that will make the property a storybook combination of old world elegance and up-to-the-minute luxury, having undergone a process of restoration and refurbishment that will culminate with the opening of the new 25,000-square-foot Spa and salon, 20,000-square-foot Conference Center and new outdoor pool complex. While the Spa and Conference Center, and reopening of the restored 18-hole Donald Ross-designed Mount Washington Course, have occupied center stage this summer, there are many other interesting and compelling stories unfolding at Mount Washington Resort. One prime example is the new “green roof,” called the “Jewell Terrace,” that will top the new Presidential Wing that houses the new Spa and Conference Center.

The Jewell Terrace is slated to be one of New England’s most stunning outdoor venues, as it reaches out to the White Mountain postcard setting against the backdrop of Mount Washington and the Presidential Mountain Range. This new landscaped rooftop is being billed as an ideal venue for weddings, rehearsals, and evening dinners, with its greenery and completely unique design. But it is much more than just a spectacular venue. The rooftop is a “green roof.” A “green roof” is a roof on a building that is partially covered with vegetation and soil, or growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane which may include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage. In addition to pleasing aesthetics, a “green roof” in this location provides the benefit of energy efficiency by keeping the underlying building cooler during the summer months, and warmer in the winter. It also minimizes storm water run-off by capturing rain for use in irrigation.

When asked why the Resort decided to construct a green roof, Matt Dieterich, Development Manager for Mount Washington Resort responded, “We knew that in order to create a state-of-the-art Spa and Conference Center at the Resort we needed to build an addition to The Mount Washington Hotel. We had three prime considerations. First, the space had to be functional for the specific purposes of housing both The Spa and the Conference Center; secondly, any addition could not block the renowned views from the Veranda; and thirdly, in keeping with our goals of sustainability and environmental responsibility, the proposed new addition, or Presidential Wing, had to be energy efficient.”

Mount Washington Resort’s architectural firm based in Boston, TRO Jung | Brannen, came up with the unique concept to depress the building into the hillside and develop a green roof that was an extension of the unique veranda environment that distinguishes The Mount Washington Hotel. Neil Middleton, AIA and the designer of the project, sought to establish an architectural expression that blended in with The Hotel as a natural extension of its unique style. “We sought to strengthen the integration of the building with the high alpine environment of Mount Washington. By so doing, we hope to tell a story and to enrich people’s understanding of this unique and sensitive New England environment. The green roof and architecture thus become a vehicle for a broad array of offerings that meet The Hotel’s mission and also provide people with exciting experiences.” To execute this concept, The Hayter Firm, the Resort’s landscape architects and planners, worked closely with Jeff Licht of Botanicals Nursery LLC in Wayland, Massachusetts. Licht consulted on the project relative to plant species and layout.

The roof combines the use of native plants, providing a landscape more consistent with views in the White Mountains than a normal garden. Subtle features like cairns have been added to further connect the roof space with trails leading to the summits of the surrounding mountains. Licht sought to showcase actual plants that exist as one ascends Mount Washington, through four climate zones, and raise visitor awareness of what plants survive under the changing conditions, and the impact that climate has on plant life.

The plant palette includes 43 species, of which 20 are indigenous to New Hampshire. Some, from the Presidential subalpine plant and montane communities, include Labrador tea, moss campion, three-toothed cinquefoil, bunchberry, alpine bluet, harebell and White Mountain saxifrage. Licht matched soil samples from the Presidentials by using soil blending techniques to suit the plants selected for the project, as it was important that the soil be able to both hold and drain the water. At the time of planting, in mid-August of this summer, more than 200 yards of soil were delivered onto the rooftop of the new Presidential Wing.

Knowing from previous projects that the green roof embodied a unique hands-on learning experience, Licht, through the assistance of Hutter Construction, the firm undertaking the construction of the building and rooftop, engaged the local White Mountains Community College (WMCC), based in Berlin, NH, to explore their interest in providing students with the opportunity to learn about the green roof technology. Kathy Eneguess, President of White Mountains Community College, was thrilled with the prospect of being able to expose local students to this unique project, and gathered together a team of professors and students who were ready to learn and to collaborate. According to Eneguess, “This project offered students a ‘real world’ hands-on experience in their chosen field of study. As one student put it, this project was ‘way too cool’ and also ‘a way to contribute to the rehabilitation of this grand resort we grew up looking at.’ Our partnership with the Mount Washington Resort is very exciting and shows our students that they are our collective future with the ability to live and work in this region.” With the help of the WMCC professors and students, no fewer than 20,000 two-to five-year-old plants were placed in their new home on the Jewell Terrace.

While the finishing touches are being placed on the Jewell Terrace, the new building is scheduled for completion in the coming months, early this winter. Pat Corso, Mount Washington Resort’s President and CEO, is pleased and confident in the final outcome, “The Presidential Wing represents the first major addition to the hotel in over 100 years. It was important to us that we incorporate the latest sustainable technology into our plans in keeping with The Hotel’s authenticity and history of innovation.”

For more information about Mount Washington Resort, please call 877.873.0626 toll-free, 603.278.1000 local or visit