As part of my internship with Living City DC 14th & U, I’m looking at the potential for bringing large-scale green roofing to the neighborhood. “Green roofing” is a broad term that can take many different forms, but it simply means installing plants on a building’s roof. Depending on how the plants are set up, the green roof could provide a host of benefits, from improving air quality and helping to deal with storm water, to energy savings and even the potential for growing food.
In my work, I am creating a comprehensive analysis of green roofing and what it takes to bring green roofs to buildings at Living City DC 14th & U. My study involves all aspects of the process and the environmental and cost impacts of green roof systems.
The major benefit of a green roof system is that it brings the attributes of nature back into a developed space. Green roofing will be beneficial both for the immediate 14th & U Street neighborhood and the city as a whole. Locally, a green roof would act as a layer of insulation on top of the buildings, preventing heat loss during the winter and acting as a buffer against solar radiation in the summer. This translates to significant energy savings over the course of the life of the building. Green roofs also help to improve air quality by removing prominent air pollutants, such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide.
The District as a whole will benefit from green roofing as part of its strategy to address the issue of storm water runoff. When rain falls in urban areas, concrete and buildings prevent the water from being absorbed in to the soil, as it would in a forest. As a result the water moves along the street and through the storm water system. During periods of high rainfall, this untreated water overflows into local waterways. Green roofs allow for water retention, reducing the burden on the District’s combined storm water and sewer system and reducing overflow into the Anacostia and Potomac rivers. Green roofing will have a direct positive impact on the water quality of the District.