By Austa Somvichian-Clausen, Communications Intern
A green roof — or living roof — can be defined as the roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane.
Green roofs have a number of benefits such as providing habitat for birds, absorbing airborne pollutants, drastically reducing sewer overflow by retaining rainwater and reducing the urban heat island effect whereby high concentrations of concrete buildings and asphalt increase air temperature.
In the United States, cities like Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City now offer financial incentives for installing green roofs. Installations have almost doubled since 2008, and now more than 17.5 million square feet of roofs across the country are considered “green.”
Besides the benefits that green roofs provide for the environment, they also offer aesthetic benefits. Adding a green roof to any building can significantly add to its aesthetic appeal. Take a look at this short list of a few of the more notable and beautiful green roofs around the world.
Museé du Quai Branlys Vertical Garden – Paris, France
Designed and planted by French botanist Dr. Patrick Blanc, the 650-foot-long and 40-foot high Musée du quai Branly greenwall is one of Blanc’s most famous vertical gardens, and one of the most highly photographed in the world. Facing the River Seine with a park and small streets in between, the micro-climate creates a good environment for a large variety of plants.
A reason to celebrate:
Thanks to a French law that passed last March, rooftops on new buildings in commercial zones across France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels. The law was approved by French Parliament and was actually scaled back from initial proposals by environmental groups asking for green roofs to cover the entire rooftop surface of all new buildings. Similar green roof bylaws exist in various cities around the world, including Tokyo, Toronto, Copenhagen and Zurich.