Rooftop Gardens Greening Boston


When we take time out of our busy lives, look up from our smart phones and enjoy our surroundings, we learn that this city really does have a lot to offer. Between the scenic parks and water views, the busy bustle of the streets, the historic monuments and the ever evolving architecture, the city is always changing.

From LEED certified buildings to solar panels, Boston is always at the forefront of the latest trends, specifically when it comes to city living. One emerging trend that is happening throughout the City of Boston is the adaptation of green roofs (or rooftop gardens) and they are popping up all over the place. From commercial and academic buildings, to residential buildings and facilities, these urban gardens are providing little patches of nature to brighten up our concrete jungle! And while they are aesthetically pleasing, they can also provide numerous environmental and energy benefits to the building, as well as the surrounding area.

According to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, “A green roof system is an extension of the existing roof which involves a high quality water proofing and root repellant system, a drainage system, filter cloth, a lightweight growing medium and plants.” Green roofs can range from a simple two inch covering of groundcover to a complex, accessible rooftop park or convenient mammal sanctuary. Although initial costs to install and upkeep a green roof are higher than conventional roofs, the green roof’s effect on reduced energy use and consumption go a long way!

When wet, a green roof creates shade and absorbs heat, reducing the amount of heat transmitted into the building. This avoids the need for a building’s HVAC system to work harder to keep rooms cool and alleviates temperature fluctuations. This heat-trapping affect is especially beneficial for those up here in the Northeast. Dry, green roof layers insulate during the winter, decreasing the flow of heat emitted through the roof, effectively keeping the interior warmer and reducing heating costs and energy consumption.

In addition to reducing energy use and saving money, green roofs are helping to keep Boston’s commitment to sustainability strong by filtering and reducing air pollutants, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving the quality of life for occupants and the surrounding area.

Notable green roofs in our area:

The Macallen Condominiums

One of the most notable green roofs in the city, the South Boston building is the first residential building in the City of Boston to earn a LEED Gold rating. The wedge-shaped building has a sloping green roof that thrives with its orientation toward the sun, and the angle allows for gravity to force rainwater down to tanks for recycling and irrigation. All told, the building uses 600,000 less gallons of water annually and uses 30 percent less energy than traditionally constructed buildings.

Boston Latin School

The Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network implemented a multi-level sustainable design to create a learning environment for students and to integrate into the school’s curriculum. The greenhouse and gardens also provide food for the BLS cafeteria and the community to encourage sustainable food growth and practices, and the renewable energy elements will reduce the school’s utility cost and carbon footprint.

Whole Foods Lynnfield

Described in a Boston Globe report last summer, our local Whole Foods in Lynnfield grows much of its produce on the roof!The space is 17,000 square feet, and produces about 10,000 to 11,000 pounds of produce a year, helping the store to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut down on costs by growing produce that does not need to be shipped to the store.

Millennium Place

The new tower that will be home to luxury residences and retail space with sweeping views of Boston Common and the Boston Public Gardens will also have several, different level rooftop gardens, green roofs, and a large courtyard with a garden. The building is also seeking a LEED Silver rating, and features rooftop energy recovery units to collect heat and low flow plumbing.

Read the original article on