Phase II of the installation of a roof garden at The John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center is complete.

In creating the state-of-the-art cancer center last year, Hackensack University Medical Center turned to R&S Landscaping to design and build the state-of-the-art center’s roof garden, a key component of the hospital’s effort to make the patient experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible.

Using its proprietary Eco Earth Design process, which entails using only the most eco-friendly methods and materials, R&S Landscaping designed a rooftop oasis. In Phase I of the project, completed last year, R&S installed drought-tolerant green roof modules, decorative planters, shrubs, and sitting areas.

With the completion of Phase II, which featured the installation of a demonstration vegetable garden, the roof garden occupies now 4,000 square feet of the cancer center’s rooftop, providing patients with easy access to the outdoors, a place to sit among greenery, and even the chance to learn about growing healthy foods. Additionally, the garden provides a space for visiting families and friends to spend time while their loved ones are receiving treatment.

The space also provides numerous health, economic and environmental benefits for the Hospital, which is pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

“It is well known that outdoor green spaces improve emotional well being and ease stress,” said Robert Schucker, owner of R&S Landscaping. “Since installing the initial phase of the roof garden, it has provided not only a functional outdoor environment, but also beautiful views from indoors. With Phase II now complete, I believe that the space will provide even more joy and relaxation for patients and workers alike. ”

In addition to helping patients, the green roof provides economic and environmental benefits that support a healthier community.

Acting as exterior insulation, green roofs significantly reduce heat gain and loss, resulting in lower energy output for heating and cooling and thereby reducing harmful emissions. Green roofs provide further air quality benefits by filtering air that moves across it and absorbing carbon dioxide. The green roof substrate also retains water — up to 90 percent of summertime precipitation and 40 percent of wintertime precipitation — greatly reducing storm water runoff.

The John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center also realizes economic benefits, which include reduced heating and cooling costs, and longer roof lifespan. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, an organization that advocates green roof installation throughout North America, estimates that green roofs last up to twice as long as conventional roofs, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

“As an increasing number of hospitals adopt a patient-centered approach to medical care, we are seeing green roofs incorporated into more and more hospitals around the country,” Schucker said. “Hospitals that want to improve the patient experience by using otherwise vacant blacktop roofing are wise to consider the health and economic benefits of green roofs.”