DC is home to the most green roofs in North America

Diving letter:

  • The North American green roofs and walls industry association Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) named Washington, DC, the city with the most square meters of green roof installations in 2017. The district recorded more than 1 million square feet of green roofs.
  • Newark, NJ, was the closest town with nearly 600,000 square feet of green roofs. The cities that complete the top 10 are New York City; Seattle; Portland, OR; Toronto; Philadelphia; Chicago; Culpeper, VA; and Gaithersburg, MD.
  • The 2017 Green Roof Survey collected data on more than 1,000 completed projects in 39 states and five Canadian provinces. The survey covered nearly 5.4 million square feet of green roofs, but the actual number could be higher as not all GRHC members take part in the annual survey.

Dive Insight:

In general, green roof status involves creating a permanent green space with a waterproof base on the roof of a building or a patio or ledge in the center of the building. Simply adding a few potted plants doesn’t count.

Numerous benefits are attributed to green roofs, the obvious benefit of which is vegetation for the environment, including filtering out pollution, providing habitats for wildlife, and lowering urban temperatures to mitigate heat islands. They are also touted for absorbing rainwater and improving drainage, which is an increasing tactic for strengthening cities’ flood resistance. Green roofs can provide additional insulation to increase the energy efficiency of buildings. In addition, they provide an aesthetically pleasing, calming environment for employees and residents that can improve health.

City buildings increasingly have green spaces high above street level, which partially counteracts the lack of green at street level in many cities. These elevated gardens will become more important for cities as urban populations continue to grow and developments vie for space, putting green spaces increasingly at risk. Cities like San Francisco, Denver, and New York have all taken steps to encourage or mandate green roofs on city buildings.

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