Now, green roofed building occupants are finding another benefit - fresh, local produce.
Its a growing trend for buildings with green roofs to plant and harvest vegetables and herbs for use in the tenant spaces below. As New York Times reporter Marian Burros explained in “Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun”, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, said that the organization held an event on urban agriculture in Atlanta and that is was standing room only, due to popular interest. Steve Peck, the organization’s president, said in a recent Grist article that he estimates there were no rooftop farms 5 years ago, but now there are about 20. Rooftop gardens are more common, but commercial-scale farms are a growing trend.
Frontera Grill is another restaurant in Chicago that uses its rooftop garden for ingredients in its dishes. Its chef, Rick Bayless, invented “Rooftop Salsa” from the tomatoes and chilies he grows above. Method, a sustainable soap and home cleaning products company, is also planning a rooftop farm for its manufacturing plant in Chicago. Chicago is not the only city pioneering these rooftop farming projects, though... Gotham Greens in Brooklyn supplies local restaurants and retailers with fresh produce, and grows 30 tons of it on its rooftop garden.
"We've seen tremendous growth in the public interest and appetite for rooftop gardens," said Matthew Casuccio from Greensulate, a national sustainable building and green roof consulting company. "Our approach is always determined by the specifics of any given project, but when we install a vegetable garden, the concerns are a bit different than those associated with more standard extensive green roofs. Needless to say, we feel fortunate to be able continue to be a participant in this exciting corner of the green movement."
Some rooftop gardens are not just breeding vegetables, but bees. The Ginza in Tokyo keeps about 150,000 bees and harvests honey for its confectionary shop below. The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto and Urban Apiaries in Philadelphia are other examples of buildings using their green roofs for beekeeping and honey production.
While green roofs are more expensive than conventional roofs, ranging from $15 to $35 per square foot, these rooftop gardens are increasing the payback period on green roofs, since restaurants and stores can harvest fresh, organic produce from the roof and save money. Plus, the marketing benefits of a “roof to table” restaurant is a likely PR bonus.
If you’d like to learn more about green roofs, try CEHours’ “Green Roofs 101” course, coming soon, sponsored by Greensulate. In this course, certified green roof installers will teach you about the basics of green roofs, types of green roofs, how to choose a green roof installer, and real life case studies of green roofs.
You will earn 1 LEED continuing education credit for participating in the course and taking a short quiz at the end.
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