The Hanging Gardens

Published: April 10th 2010
in News » World

The cities of Vancouver and Toronto both count over 600 green rooftops the concept is constantly spreading across Canada.
Green rooftops

Whether you are a "Green Thumb" or not, you are probably going to like this. There is a new green groove that is sweeping across the world. United States, Germany, Singapore, Japan as well as Canada's new emerging solution to reduce pollution is transforming urban rooftops to flourishing gardens, who will reduce the heat and noise, clean the air and improve the cities' grayish skylines.


In the heart of downtown Chicago, in the corner of LaSalle street and Washington street, lies the historical town center which was founded in 1911. Its architecture tries to replicate the classic era, with Roman pillars thatsurround the building. But the most interesting thing about the building can only be viewed from high above: the building has 1,886 square feet of gardens on top.


Those gardens are botanical gardens in fact, which are composed of 20 thousand plants of 150 different species, with vines and apple trees, and beautiful pastures amongst them. The entire irrigation system of the gardens is based on rainwater. The man behind the roof is Chicago's mayor, Richard Dally, who had promised to make Chicago the "greenest city in America". He gathered the funds from compensations the town hall had received from the local electric company ComEd. According to him, since its completion in 2001 the green rooftop saves some $3,600 yearly on cooling in the top floors of the building and moreover, it is considered a popular tourist attraction in the city.  


"It wasn't easy to explain to anyone what a green rooftop is, in those years", comments Kimberly Warthington, a chief executive in the environment department of Chicago's town hall. "The fire department refused to give us permissions because they thought it was tooweird. I also recall one of the contractors thought a green roof meant a rooftop that is actually painted in green!"


Since the foundation of this "hanging garden", more than 300 additional gardens where planted on Chicago's rooftops. Altogether they sum up to 1.5 million square feet. Chicago's lovely roof gardens not only look good, they also improve the isolation of the top floors of the buildings on top of which they are planted, and save a lot of air conditioning expenses. In addition, they turn CO2 to oxygen, attract birds, take advantage of rainwater which otherwise would have been wasted, reduce the amount of noise drawing from the building and also will help fight the urban "heat islands"-metropolitan areas which are significantly warmer than theirsurrounding rural areas because of the bare concrete which attracts heat.


How is Canada doing? Pretty well actually. Canadian researchers were the first to show evidence that green roofs help to conserve energy in the winter as well as the summer. The benefits of green roofs in the summer are already well known as aforementioned. But until recently, no one had really looked at a winter design. Their research showed that green roofs that are especially designed for the winter could reduce the energy used for heating by more than 10% during the cold season. The cities of Vancouver and Toronto both count over 600 green rooftops the concept is constantly spreading across Canada.


In conclusion, the green rooftops seem to be a bright new environmental growing trend and one of the first green initiatives the world's cities and countries are actually pulling off.

Related articles: (chicago, green roofs)
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