Green Roofs to Combat Emissions

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.

weed man green roof post_0

Fig 1: City Hall Roof Top

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.


“Chicago Green Roofs.” Chicago Green Roofs. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
“City of Chicago.” City of Chicago. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
“Decoration As Composition.” Green Roof City Hall, Chicago. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
“Plant Connection, Long Island NY, Green Roof Legislation, Policies and Tax Incentives.” Green Roof Legislation, Policies and Tax Incentives. Web. 01 Apr. 2016

3 thoughts on “Green Roofs to Combat Emissions

  1. “Battle of the Bulbs” competition, was a competition between Cook County Building and the Chicago City Hall in a race to see who could reduce their electrical bill the most. The County building installed a white membrane that reflects the sun while City hall installed a green roof. Both, vast improvements from the old black tar membrane which each building had before. Black tar membrane absorbs and retains heat the most, driving the cooling costs of a building especially during summer. Green roofs in general are more expensive compered to white membrane roof because they require more infrastructure to work but ultimately provide more benefits in the long run. e.g not only do they cool the buildings, they also clean the air, and collect rainfall water therefore reducing storm water runoff pressure to the sewer system. And
    Oh! Cook County saved more than $65,000 while the city saved less than $22,000 in cooling cost that years billing cycle (2010 or 2011) hence winning the Battle. Yes, the City lost but the green roof is a much more worthy investment….i think.

    Liked by 1 person

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