I have to say, occaisonally I am surprised by good news about Chicago. Maybe because it is Earth Day I was mulling around on “green” websites or because the weather is getting warmer; but I was digging into how “green” Chicago is and was surprised to find out we are the nations leaders three years in a row on green roofs.
A green roof system is, according to greenroofs.org, “an extension of the existing roof which involves a high quality water proofing and root repellant system, a drainage system, filter cloth, a lightweight growing medium and plants.” Green roof systems may be modular, with drainage layers, filter cloth, growing media and plants already prepared in movable, interlocking grids, or, each component of the system may be installed separately.Green roof development involves the creation of “contained” green space on top of a human-made structure. This green space could be below, at or above grade, but in all cases the plants are not planted in the “ground’.
Green roofs absorb rainwater, alleviating the strain on urban sewer and stormwater systems. And they help cool cities, where light-absorbent asphalt and other dark surfaces can increase summer temperatures as much as 10 degrees. A cooler local climate means less strain on the power supply from air conditioners, and more importantly, fewer deaths from heat stress.
Chicago requires green roofs on certain new construction, including any that uses city money, it encourages building them on all projects, and it has offered grants to homeowners and small business owners who want to install green roofs on their own buildings. “Chicago is definitely the leader and inspiration for others,” said Steven Peck, the founding president of Green Roofs for Health Cities, an industry group. Peck credits the city with inspiring a 25 percent increase in green roof installation across the country last year, as more cities set similar incentives for building gardens.
Something else you might not know: even City Hall has a green roof. Huh. I say, “Way to go, Chicago!” On this one!