Chicago’s Green Meme

Someday, most large rooftops in urban areas in the United States will be green, not black. 

David Mellis points to an excellent article in Metropolis Magazine about Chicago's green roofs.  My European readers are probably already familiar with the green roof meme.

[David Writes]
So that's what the City Hall Rooftop Garden looks like. I pass City Hall on my way to work, but haven't ever been on the roof.

From a Metropolis magazine article about Mayor Daley’s Green Crusade.”

I intend to do everything I can to ensure that the City of Redmond leads the movement from black tar to green, bio-engineered roofs in the Puget Sound region. The benefits to the environment, living environment (summer temperature), and potential taxpayer savings in wastewater management are too promising to ignore.

Comments (7)

  1. Nice. I look forward to a tour of Redmond’s green roofs.

  2. Keep in mind that this stuff isn’t zero cost. It’s not as if the two choices are cost neutral. The green rooftop will be more expensive in terms of maintenance, structural reinforcement to hold the additional weight of earth and flora, etc.

    All this will drive up the rent to be charged in these buildings, which will mean reducing the housing options for the poor.

    I’m all for a property management company to make the decision to construct one of these, and perhaps even reap profit off of it (providing a substantial benefit to an urban dweller, one would think), but mandating it seems to reflect the standard indifference to costs and inability to weigh alternatives that so characterizes the Green movement.

  3. From what I understand, a green roof grows in an "engineered growing medium" which is in fact lighter than the traditional roofing materials it would supplant.

    Most big technological changes–such as converting from whale oil to electricity–has a cost. Sometimes those costs are significant. We still haven’t figured out how to capitalize on the anticipated efficiencies associated with satellite-based telephony. When the public good is clear and present and the longterm benefits and savings outweigh the costs (ie, replacing wagon trails with paved roads for automobiles), I believe that government should provide active and decisive leadership in adopting or at least researching the feasiblity of that technology.

    In this case, cumulative taxpayer savings (in *urban* areas) in the form of reduced air conditioning costs and lower wastewater management fees is sufficient to convince me that it’s time for government to start looking at bio-engineered roofs for government buildings. If prices moderate–I think I heard somewhere that they’re currently 1/3 to 2/3 higher than conventional roofs–I think that local and state governments should consider requiring green roofs on large commercial buildings in predominantly urban areas. Someday, I believe that green roofs will be as cost-effective as traditional roofs and prevalent even outside urban areas. But that’s just a guess and hope.

  4. Very interesting…given these facts it seems like a much better idea.

  5. Bill Corrigan says:

    The City of Seattle already has green roofs, and a really great Green building program. In fact the Chicago program is modeled after ours.

    Check out:

  6. Vinny says:

    <I>The green rooftop will be more expensive in terms of maintenance, structural reinforcement to hold the additional weight of earth and flora, etc. </I>

    Actually, most Chicago apartments are designed to have gravel and tar roofs, so switching to a rubber plus soil roof doesn’t require strengthening. Still, the green roof costs about three times a rubber roof.

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