Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 16, 2010: New York City - Green Roofs

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities was running a 'boot camp' on green roofs in New York City, and since one of my sabbatical goals is to learn more about them, I signed up for the first day.

I took the bus down and stayed with my friend Jenn at her new place in the Bronx. It's a great neighbourhood - people walking dogs, some cute restaurants and take-out places, and a good-quality grocery store - which can be a rarity in the Bronx. It's also convenient to two different subway lines, which is great for getting around the city.

Day 1 of Green Roof boot camp was good. I'd been doing a fair bit of reading over the summer, so I didn't learn anything radically new, but it was very encouraging to hear how excited everyone there was that I live in Toronto. It turns out Toronto is well-regarded in North America for its governmental support for the growing green roof industry. There was a mix of attendees - a landscape architect leading the course, a horticulturalist from Colombia (where living walls are the big thing), a couple of nursery growers, a roofing specialist, and some generally interested consumers like myself. One thing I come away convinced of is the importance of good waterproofing, and the need to have experts work on it. The other is the great benefit to municipalities of using green roofs to mitigate and control storm water run-off. If that was the only thing green roofs were good for, it would be enough, but air quality, cooling, insulating and habitat improvement benefits also add to their value.

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