Higher Education: Messaging with Green Roofs

By Nancy Grundahl

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource.  Throughout the year, EPA will be highlighting different aspects of the history and successes of the Clean Water Act in reducing pollution in the past 40 years.  The month of May will focus on Clean Water, Jobs, and the Economy.

Green Roof Art at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville

Green Roof Art at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville

Green roofs have much to offer.

  • They hold rainfall that would otherwise run over impervious surfaces carrying pollutants to our streams.
  • They act as magnificent insulators, significantly lowering the HVAC needs of a building.
  • They provide habitat for birds and insects such as butterflies and bees.
  • And, some may provide a park-like escape for people working in the building.

So, it’s no surprise that green roofs are gaining in popularity. And, it figures that someone would start designing green roofs to be like works of art or to convey a company’s message. I don’t mean by using signs or statues, but by using plants and soils with different colors and textures.

It makes sense.  There’s an audience out there – or, rather, up there.  People in nearby taller buildings, pilots and their passengers.  There were 448,129 aircraft takeoffs and landings at Philadelphia International Airport in 2011. Multiply that by the number of people with window seats and you get a tremendous number of potential onlookers.

So, we’re calling on all “higher-ups.”  Have you seen green roofs that you’d like to tell us about?

About the author: Nancy Grundahl has worked for the Philadelphia office of EPA since the mid-80’s. Nancy believes in looking at environmental problems in a holistic, multi-media way and is a strong advocate of preventing pollution instead of dealing with it after it has been created. Nancy likes to garden and during the growing season brings flowers into the office. Nancy also writes for the EPA “It’s Our Environment” blog.