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Sustainable roofs for Belgian nature reserve

Located at the eastern end of the Belgian coast, next to the border with the Netherlands, Het Zwin is one of the oldest nature reserves in Belgium. Created in 1952 by Count Léon Lippens, in 2015 the building owners launched a competition for the design of a new building that would house the ticket office, exhibition spaces, a cafeteria, conference rooms and a bird observation post.

The winning proposal was resolutely sustainable and respectful of the environment, favoring the efficient use of materials and resources. In terms of roofing, it specified a durable and efficient waterproofing membrane that would be fully compatible with green roofs and would allow rainwater recuperation for use in toilets.

In total, 4,500 m² of Firestone RubberGard EPDM roofing membranes were installed on the main building of Het Zwin, of which 1,700 m² are green roofs. The 5.08 m wide membranes were fully adhered with bonding adhesive, ensuring a fast, reliable and safe installation.

The membrane’s dark color is in total harmony with the concrete structure of the building and the wood cladding, sourced from sustainably managed forests. The ensemble does not seek to blend into the landscape but rather to create a distance between the building and its environment.

The RubberGard EPDM membrane effectively resists UV rays and ozone and has a service life of over 50 years. Because it is inert and free from harmful substances, it allows the recuperation of rainwater for sanitary use. It is also resistant to root penetration, which is a key requirement for green roof systems. In combination with the use of PIR insulation panels and the green roofs, the RubberGard EPDM membrane contributes to limit variations in the building’s inside temperatures. Occupants are protected from heat in the summer and cold in the winter, contributing to energy savings in heating and cooling costs.

Want to learn more about the RubberGard EPDM system?