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6 Successful, Sustainable Green Roof Projects

A green roof has a surface-level beauty that any admirer can appreciate. However, the remarkable measure of designing, planning, execution, and maintenance that must be performed make green roofs a veritable art-form.

Given the amount of work that goes into developing green roofs, it’s no wonder that there has been an increase in the number of companies offering their professional design, consultation, and maintenance services. Because these experts streamline the process from start to finish, green roofs are becoming increasingly desirable especially when the ongoing benefits are communicated effectively.

In an effort to promote and popularize green roofs either through new construction or renovation, we’ve compiled a list of six successful green roof projects from around the world and highlighted how their sustainability provides long-term benefits.

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Chicago City Hall’s green roof. Photo by Mark Farina AP/Chicago Department of Environment. Image via Wbez.org, July 30, 2012.

1. Chicago City Hall, Chicago IL

Home to one of the most modern and iconic green roofs, Chicago City Hall commissioned Roofmeadow to construct their rooftop garden in 2001. The City of Chicago and the mayor of the time, Richard M. Daley had the foresight to utilize a natural process to combat its urban heat island concerns and improve urban air quality. It’s said that the 38,800 square foot semi-extensive green roof was an investment made after the City won a $1.1 billion settlement from Commonwealth Edison in 1999. To this day, the green roof atop Chicago City Hall is one of the area’s most illustrious symbols of sustainability.

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A rooftop garden at the Rockefeller Center in New York City. Image via David Shankbone,Wikimedia Commons.

2. Rockefeller Center’s Green Roofs, New York NY

New York City’s famous Rockefeller Center is home to an assortment of enigmatic rooftop gardens constructed over 75 years ago, and originally designed by architect Raymond Hood. Though there are plenty of images available on the web of the elevated gardens, the Rockefeller Center does not keep the areas open to the general public. Instead they opt to preserve the gardens for employee use and special events only. The rooftop gardens at the Rockefeller Center have withstood the test of time thanks to the massive layer of reinforced steel, making the project truly sustainable.

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GENO Haus green roof in Stuttgart, Germany. Image via Metropolis Magazine, September 2006.

3. GENO Haus, Stuttgart, Germany

A 30,000 square foot green roof covers the landmark building, GENO Haus in Stuttgart, Germany. A combined intensive and extensive design, the GENO Haus green roof was originally installed in 1969 using Styrofoam as a rudimentary water membrane. In 1990 the green roof was renovated with updated technology to further reinforce the membrane. With open access to the public, GENO Haus has become an iconic example of green roof landscape architecture around the world.

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A green roof on the A&P Lofts condo building in Atlanta, GA. Image via PermaTill.

4.   A&P Lofts, Atlanta GA

Constructed in 1930, the A&P Lofts building was originally purposed as a bakery for the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. When the building was purchased in 2001 after years of abandonment, it was transformed into condominiums. A flat roof gave the developer the genius idea to preserve the rooftop space as an observation point for residents. In 2007 a structural steel frame was installed to increase the roof’s weight-bearing capabilities ultimately leading to today’s serene vegetative space enjoyed by residents of the A&P Lofts.

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A green roof on the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Center in Hyderabad, India. Image via Greenroofs.org.

5.       CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre

The first ever LEED Platinum certified building outside of the United States was the CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Center in Hyderabad, India. It is home to an 11,000 square foot extensive green roof accompanied by a covering of 24 KW capacity solar photo voltaic panels. Constructed in 2003, the green roof design is thoroughly sustainable with its waste water and runoff recycling system that supports specialty air-purifying plants which filter and treat the water consumed by the roots. The filtered and treated water is then pumped into three separate ponds atop the roof. Because of the “Net-Zero Water” system, the building is able to reduce its municipal potable water utility consumption by 35%. The recycled water is also used to irrigate the vegetative surroundings during the dry season.

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Ford Rouge Center living roof. Image via William McDonough + Partners.

6.   Ford Rouge Center, Dearborn MI

At 454,000 square feet, the living roof at the Ford Rouge Center in Dearborn, MI is the largest green roof  ever built. The 10.4 acre roof garden recently celebrated its ten year anniversary and is still regarded as a masterpiece of design innovation. Collecting and filtering rain water may be the primary purpose of the living roof, but significant off-shooting functions, including air purification, improved building insulation, and wildlife habitat creation all work harmoniously to deliver stunningly sustainable results. The extensive green roof designed by William McDonough + Partners was a $2 billion investment decision made by the Ford Motor Company in an effort to solidify its commitment to sustainability and the resulting economic prosperity that can be achieved by this practice. As a true testament to the principles on which Henry Ford founded the elite automaker, the Ford Motor Company has vowed to continually improve upon the design to ensure its longevity and full-functionality.

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Layers of a sustainable green roof. Image via Penn State University, Olivia Miller’s Blog.

There are many ways businesses, developers, or builders can fulfill their green egos which often times makes us wonder if the best intentions were even at all applied. When we look at green projects it’s important to assess their long-term value. Are they sustainable? Especially when it comes to a project as comprehensive as green roofs. If not designed with the long-term in mind the project is not only futile but will end up causing more harm than good. We owe it to these examples of successful green roof projects by including them in world-class case studies of sustainable green designs that have withstood the test of time.

About The Author

PowerHouse Growers
PowerHouse Growers teaches you how to sustainably integrate urban agriculture into your cities, businesses, and homes. We provide clear solutions and benefits for better health, increased productivity, and lower environmental impact. By connecting you with experts, we bring awareness to solutions that may not be top of mind.