Roofs in Bloom

May 5, 2015 | by Brooke Willmes

The views from The Philadelphian were never its best selling points. You would look across out into the Ben Franklin Parkway and see black roofs studded with ac units. That is all in the past, workers have begun to spread dirt atop those black studded roofs, and planting greenery that will bloom pink in June, ocher in November and tall grass that will hide air handlers. Phillya��s campaign to become the greenest city is not just applying to its urban landscape but also to its roofs. The views will no longer just be another concrete jungle, but of beautiful colors spread across rooftops.

All over Philadelphia, city roofs are sprouting colors and greenery like never before. The number of green roofs in Philadelphia, have tripled since 2010, according to the Water Department. The Water Department is in charge of keeping track of roofs because they absorb storm-water runoffs. Currently, Philadelphia has 111 green roofs, roughly 25 acresa�� worth of greenery, with an additional 64 roofs that are in queue. Completed rooftops range in all shapes and sized. Some as small as the top of bus sheltersa��installed at 15th and Market Streets to as large as one acre plus like the greenery at Circa Center South in University City.

Gardens and greenery are atop hospitals, office buildings, schools, libraries, and private homes. For example, since 2009, no renovation or new building at the University of Pennsylvania has not included a green roof. They are even in doors much like the top of the Kimmel Center with trees and spectacular greenery. Although green roofs are a bit more expensive then a roof, they do come with their benefits. They can blunt heating and cooling cost, they can even lower air temperatures in surrounding urban areas. They provide protection to roofing materials from sunlight and can help extend the life of the roof significantly.

Currently researchers are looking at drainage scenarios which they are learning that green roofs often have more storage capacity that we are not taking advantage of. There could also be positives such as increased property values to homes, tax credits to new businesses who install green roofs. The growth of green roofs are encouraging, the possibilities are out there and we are only starting to scratch the surfacea��or roof!


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