Learning from green roofs: a Bronx school's lesson in saving energy.
Standing on the rooftop at St. Simon Stock Catholic School on East 182nd Street in the Bronx, i New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , Daniel Simon, marketing director of the Gaia Institute, points to a neighboring high-rise apartment building. A couple is looking down from a high window over the rooftop garden. "Those people have been living here a long time," says Simon, "and one day they had a green roof to look at instead of city construction."
Green roofs are usually flat, and partially or completely covered by soil and plants. Germany and Japan have incorporated them into building projects for many years, and they are now becoming popular in eco-minded cities in the U.S. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Green Roofs Institute, total coverage in North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. climbed from 1.3 to 2.5 million square feet between 2004 and 2005. Green roofs lower cooling bills, provide research opportunity and bring the natural world to inner-city children. "The green roof movement is growing rapidly here," says Leslie Hoffman of Earth Pledge's Green Roofs Initiative.
Simon, with Gaia Institute founder Paul Mankiewicz, pushed the Bronx project to completion in June 2005. The roof is a lone patch of green in the quilt of gray, beige and black that stretches across the southeast Bronx. Six inches of a patented, lightweight growing medium called Gaia Soil covers 3,500 square feet, divided into plots for both elementary and graduate school research. The roof hosts 20 native species: delicate columbine columbine, in botany
columbine (kŏl`əmbīn), any plant of the genus Aquilegia, temperate-zone perennials of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family), popular both as wildflowers and as garden flowers. flowers, milkweed milkweed, common name for members of the Asclepiadaceae, a family of mostly perennial herbs and shrubs characterized by milky sap, a tuft of silky hairs attached to the seed (for wind distribution), and (usually) a climbing habit. that attracts migrating Monarch butterflies, tomato and cucumber plants, and black-eyed susans, favored by bumblebees. "You can see some pollination pollination, transfer of pollen from the male reproductive organ (stamen or staminate cone) to the female reproductive organ (pistil or pistillate cone) of the same or of another flower or cone. here," says Simon, "which is rare because there aren't a lot of plants in the Bronx to pollinate pol·li·nate also pol·len·ate
tr.v. pol·li·nat·ed also pol·len·at·ed, pol·li·nat·ing also pol·len·at·ing, pol·li·nates also pol·len·ates
To transfer pollen from an anther to the stigma of (a flower). ."
Parish rector Nelson Belizario was struck by the roof idea when he arrived at the school two years ago. "I looked out at the rooftop and knew we needed gardens here," he says. Belizario learned about green roofs in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley's administration requires any city-funded project to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. (LEED) Certification.
Belizario got in touch with Mankiewicz, who played matchmaker Matchmaker - A language for specifying and automating the generation of multi-lingual interprocess communication interfaces. MIG is an implementation of a subset of Matchmaker. between the school and the borough. The result was an award totaling more than $130,000 from the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC BOEDC Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation ). "We're quite excited about St. Simons as a model for what's possible with a green roof," says Kate Shackford, director of the BOEDC'S Initiative for Energy and the Environment. "We'd like to see more green roofs in the Bronx."
Mankiewicz estimates that the Bronx has 10 green roofs, including the municipal courthouse across the street from Yankee Stadium
• • [ . Weight, apart from cost, is the largest obstacle to building more green roofs. "A lower weight soil is important because of the load-bearing limits on rooftops. For existing structures, lighter-weight soil means less restructuring," Simon explains. The roof on St. Simon can only hold 40 pounds per cubic foot. Most soils weigh 50 pounds per cubic foot.
Mankiewicz and the Gaia Institute solved St. Simon's problem with Gaia Soil, a growing medium that is 85 percent Styrofoam. The remaining 15 percent is a mixture of agricultural waste, clay slurry and compost that includes ground pumpkin seeds, evergreen trees and "Bronx Zoo Doo" (poop Poop
A slang term often used to describe people with insider information.
Not the most illustrious name.
See also: Insider Information from exotic animals at the Wildlife Conservation Society's establishment down the road). A cubic foot weighs only 10 pounds. "I started to develop it 25 years ago," Mankiewicz says. "I've grown everything from red pines to vegetables with it."
Despite its light weight, Gaia Soil can absorb twice its weight in water. Absorbency slows the rate of storm water run-off from the roof, resulting in less water in the sewer, and less overflow of untreated water into Long Island Sound and the East River. "Right now the storm water systems are overtaxed," says Jeanette Compton, a graduate student at Cornell University who studied evaporation rates at St. Simon. "The situation is going to get worse as we build more parking lots."
Simon claims that Gaia Soil on the school roof can absorb up to two inches of rainfall at a time; it captured 52,367 gallons total last year. He points out that the $250 million necessary for new city sewage tanks could instead fund nearly 2,000 green roofs and achieve similar reductions in sewage overflow. One hundred acres of green roofs would collect between three and nine million gallons of water a year.
"Green roofs are interesting because they don't just have environmental returns, they also have economic returns," says Compton. New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. , which pays about a dollar to treat every hundred gallons of wastewater, has saved a total of about $5,000 as a result of the St. Simon rooftop garden. In addition, the school met its budget for the first time in years, and Belizario credits the green roof and the mild winter for lowering the electric bill.
New York City is a victim of the heat island effect: a five- to seven-degree temperature difference between the city and the surrounding countryside. "We know that greening is the way to mitigate the heat island effect, and we know that rooftops cover one-third of New York City's landmass land·mass
A large unbroken area of land.
a large continuous area of land
landmass , so the benefits of green roofs are logical," says Earth Pledge's Hoffman.
Mankiewicz hopes that the green roof will be incorporated into the educational curriculum because it teaches lessons that can't be learned on the city streets. He's trying to train vines to cover the rooftop fence so the red, bell-shaped flowers will attract hummingbirds. "Can you imagine that? Hummingbirds on 182nd Street," he adds. CONTACT: Gaia Institute, (718)885-1906, www.gaia-inst.org/projects/Green Roof/Green_Roof.html.