Green roofs are a sustainable solution that differs from other storm water management options in a couple of ways: They are out in the open for the public to see, and they brighten public spaces, turning a roof from just a cover for a building into an amenity. They also have been cropping up in the news quite frequently.
The Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) 2012 Annual Industry Survey showed that the North American green roof industry grew by a staggering 115% in 2011, which is the highest growth rate since the survey’s inception and a huge jump from the 28.5% growth rate recorded the previous year.
Other news stories tout the green roofs installed on college campuses and city council buildings. In January 2010, Toronto became the first city in North America to require green roofs on new commercial, institutional and multifamily residential developments. In April of this year, the city expanded that to include all new industrial developments as well. The GRHC report also showed that in the U.S., Washington, D.C., has vaulted into the No. 1 spot for the most square feet of green roofs installed, with Chicago, New York City, Nashville and Philadelphia rounding out the top five.
Green roofs have a number of benefits. They absorb rainwater before it becomes runoff, moderate the urban heat island effect and improve air quality—and they do all this while in the public eye, allowing residents to take note of this useful storm water management option as they enjoy the green space. Showing the public that a sustainable solution can be aesthetically pleasing while also being environmentally friendly is key to changing attitudes toward water conservation and storm water management. Utilities and manufacturers can set an example for the public by greening their own roofs or spaces, and will reap economic and environmental benefits as well.
Does your facility or business have a green roof or other publicly visible green space? Have you gotten feedback from local residents? Please share your experiences with the Storm Water Solutions editorial staff through e-mail or social media.