Let’s Go Up On the Roof—and Make It Green

Up to now, the green roof movement has been limited to large-scale professional and public buildings. But homeowners can also realize the benefits—water conservation, energy savings, and storm water management. Also known as “Living” Roofs, these environmental enhancements can be done small-scale and low-tech. If you envision a living space over your head, you may want to check out a new book, Small Green Roofs: Low-Tech Options for Greener Living.

Its authors Dunnett, Gedge, Little, and Snodgrass maintain that building a green roof not only provides environmental benefits, but will personally “do you good” as a life-affirming action. The book offers more than forty profiles of domestic-scale projects on sheds, offices, studios, garages, houses, and bicycle sheds—even a bird-feeder—and several community projects. So keep your eyes “up” for green roofs in your own neighborhood—or make your own!

Here are a few local “big green roofs” to inspire you:

Monroe office building (333 E. Onondaga St.) in Syracuse recently installed one, helped with funds from the county’s Green Improvement Fund program, an effort that promotes green building practices and aims to clean up Onondaga Lake. For labor, they partnered with Helping Hands, part of Concerned Citizens Action Group, a non-profit group who takes in unemployed high-school dropouts. CCAP Director Mike Atkins said this gives marketable construction skills to those in their training program while it also introduces the community to eco-friendly building practices. Both learn benefits such as a 95 percent reduction in storm-water runoff, decreased energy consumption and a 200 percent extension in the life of a roof.

Syracuse OnCenter has a new green roof of various sedums – a plant family that is low-growing, flowering, easily rooted, and absorbs a lot of water. About 1,000,000 gallons of rainwater should be absorbed by this roof annually, saving it from run-off into Onondaga Lake. For more about this story , go to http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/09/onondaga_countys_oncenter_goes.html. You can also check savetherain.us, for news of more community initiatives – such as grants or free rain barrels available to property owners in qualifying areas.

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