Green roofs spring up all over Syracuse

The Syracuse Center of Excellence, SUNY ESF, as well as a lot of other local universities and organizations, joined forces to continue the growing movement of constructing green roofs.

What do local universities, a research firm, a hotel, an architecture firm, a zoo and a correctional facility all have in common? A green roof, of course.

Syracuse University, State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse Center of Excellence (Syracuse CoE for short), Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel, King+King Architects, the Rosamond-Gifford Zoo and the Jamesville Correctional Facility are part of the growing movement to cover buildings in grass to save some cash.

A green roof, also known as a vegetative roof, is the top, flat part of a building that has been covered in various types of grass, herbs and other green plants. See more about green roofs in this video produced by SUNY ESF. 

This is not meant to be confused with a rooftop garden, which people build to house the vegetables, fruits and flowers of a traditional garden. A great example of a green roof is at the Syracuse CoE. Pictured below, the center’s building has a 17,500 square foot roof covered in a type of hearty grass called sedum.

Get ready for a long title... Communications and Program Manager for the Environmental Finance Center/SyracuseCoE Center for Sustainable Community Solutions, Khris Dodson, has lots to say about green infrastructure.

Most of the green roofs in Syracuse, and elsewhere, use sedum because it requires little maintenance, Dodson said. Sedum can withstand the extreme amounts of heat and sun Syracuse somehow got this summer, as well as the extreme cold Syracuse will unsurprisingly get.

Seriously, this roof is cool. Yes, it helps the CoE maintain a cooler temperature in the summer because it keeps too much heat from being absorbed. Green roofs may also help the urban heat island, where temperatures in cities rise about the regional average because so much of the area has heat trapping pavement.

However, Dodson cautions that every roof in Syracuse would need to have a green roof installed on it to make a 2-3 degree noticeable difference in the temperature.

Want to check out the Syracuse CoE’s green roof? Check out their “Friday at Four” tour on Friday, Sept. 30 at, you guessed it, 4 p.m. But make sure to sign up here.

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