What’s a green roof? It’s a roof that’s covered with plants instead of traditional roofing materials. The benefits to a green roof are many. They:
- Improve air quality
- Conserve energy
- Minimize the urban heat island effect
- Efficiently uses rain water
- Help reduce runoff
Check out these cities that are rocking the green rooftop.
The green roof at the California Academy of Sciences is covered with drought-resistant, native plants. The overhanging eaves provide cover from the sun and rain. Multiple skylights help bathe the building’s interior in natural light and can be opened for ventilation.
As part of the EPA’s Urban Heat Island Initiative, the city of Chicago designed a rooftop garden installation to test different methods for combating the urban heat island effect. The garden is made up of 20,000 plants, many of which are native to the area, specially selected to thrive in a sunny, arid and famously windy environment. The roof keeps City Hall cool in the summer and helps reduce government spending by saving energy!
East Hampton, N.Y.
Minimal water and weeding requirements make this sedum planted in engineered soil a low maintenance green roof. The hearty plants are light with shallow root systems and provide a pleasing aesthetic year-round.
In partnership with Portland State University, the Walmart in Hayden Meadows serves as a laboratory for green-tech projects. Many local players are collecting data measuring everything from bird habitat potential and stormwater runoff to air conditioning performance and the effect on surface roof temperatures.
The Student Union roof at the University of Idaho is a green roof experiment where students are measuring the effects of a green roof on stormwater runoff, air temperature and water quality. The roof is easily accessible for use by other students and faculty for various environmental studies.
Installed in March 2011, the green roof system atop the Ward Circle Building on the American University campus is the school’s largest of three green roof projects. The roof covers 11,400 square feet and is made up of low-maintenance native grasses and sedum. The modular system is considerably lighter than traditional green roof systems at only 10 pounds per square foot.