Silver City Townhomes

Silver City


Project: Silver City Townhomes – 11,575 square foot green roof
Location: Location: Milwaukee, WI
Award Winner: Award Winner: XeroFlor America (Green Roof Manufacturer and Designer)

Architect: Quorum Architects, Inc.
Co-Developer: Wisconsin Redevelopment, LLC
Co-Developer: Layton Boulevard West Neighbours, Inc.
Installer: Gibraltar Landscape & Construction LLC
General Contractor: Universal Construction Solutions
Green Roof Plant Grower: TerraCaelum
Membrane Manufacturer: Soprema
Irrigation System: Rain Bird

“The success of Silver City demonstrates the feasibility and effectiveness of very thin, very lightweight green roof assemblies, which achieve substantial stormwater reduction in appropriate applications where structural load is a basic architectural factor and significant limitation.” – Clayton Rugh, Ph.D., general manager and technical director, XeroFlor America

Green Is For Everyone

Located in an inner-city neighborhood in Milwaukee, Silver City Townhomes features twenty 1,500-1,900 sf rent-to-own, three and four-bedroom townhomes. Co-developed by Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, a non-profit community organization, and Wisconsin Redevelopment, LLC, the project consists of five buildings, each with four multi-story townhomes. The urban infill development totals 42,000 sf. Silver City provides high-quality, sustainable and affordable housing for working families earning less than the area's median income. Constructed on land once occupied by vacant parking lots and dilapidated playgrounds, the project is a model of low-impact design based on Wisconsin Green Built Home standards.

Milwaukee contends with the environmental problems of a combined sewer system. Heavy rains overtax the system and send a polluted overflow of stormwater and sewage into the Menomonee and Milwaukee Rivers and ultimately Lake Michigan.

As an urban infill project, there was little space at ground level for stormwater mitigation. The project plan included five green roofs, supported by a grant from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District. Each measures 2,315 sf. The green roofs retain about 164,000 gallons of runoff annually. The green roofs also improve the townhomes’ thermal performance: on average, the green roofs have reduced residents’ monthly utility bills by 20 percent.

The ultra-light green roof system assemblies used in the project weigh only 10-11 lbs per sf fully saturated, making green roofs possible with the townhomes’ wood frame construction. The system is Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) Certified for superior sustainability. Its manufactured components include a minimum of 90 percent recycled content. The plants were grown at a local farm located only 25 miles from Milwaukee. Regional cultivation ensured that the plants were adapted to the Upper Midwest regional climate to promote durable, self-sustaining vegetative fields on the Silver City rooftops. The diverse mixture of 11 different Sedum species includes both evergreen and deciduous varieties with different growth habits and flowering times.


The green roofs stand out as the project's signature green building element. They extend the landscape toward nearby recreational trails and the Menomonee River. Visible at eye level from the adjacent bridge over the 35th Street Viaduct, they are a local point of pride. The Silver City green roofs symbolize that “green” is for everyone — whether wealthy or working class.

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