Chicago leads the way in implementing various methods to urban sustainability. With its constant expansion, the city continues to develop ways to incorporate nature and landscape within the city grid. Green roofs have become more popular to builders in serving a variety of benefits for the city such as reducing urban heat, providing insulation, and improving air quality. Within Chicago’s Sustainability Development Policy, there is a green roof regulation for both new land developers as well as redevelopers. It requires private developers receiving financial assistance from the city to include sustainable practices into their designs. A green roof defined, is a veneer of landscape over a traditional roof.
City hall was one of the first projects to demonstrate the benefit of green roofs back in 2001 and since then have kick started the movement. 20,000 of 38,000 square feet of rooftop were converted to landscape consisting of a variety of plants. The project showed measurable significance to lower green house emissions. Standard urban rooftops built with asphalt, concrete or metal, retain heat which factors into Chicago’s heat island effect. A study with city halls green roof compared to a nearby urban roof building showed a drastic shift bet
ween materials. The adjacent building read a temperature of 104 degrees fahrenheit, while city hall recorded 69 degrees fahrenheit.
Now more than twenty companies in Chicago have expertise in this design practice. Currently there are roughly 500 buildings with green roofs, about 5,564,412 square feet of green roof coverage, and a goal to hit 6,000 rooftops by 2020. Having this policy set will enable lasting results in lowering our green house emissions.