Riverside Medical Center's new "Vegetative Living Green Roof System" on the Kankakee, Ill., hospital's East Tower is the latest example of the environmental benefits of green roofs.
The hospital expects the rooftop garden, designed and installed by Ambius to reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 20% (by preventing summer sunlight from heating the building's exterior). In addition to the energy saving benefits, green roofs help stop one of the most important sources of water pollution: urban runoff.
"Living roofs were commonly found on the sod houses of the American prairie but in recent decades, architects, builders and city planners have turned to green roofs for their beauty and practicality," said Denise Eichmann, a project manager for Ambius. "Green roofs have the ability to mitigate environmental extremes common on conventional roofs. When rain falls on a conventional roof, it sheets off and floods into storm drains unabsorbed, unfiltered and undeterred. A living roof works the way a meadow does by absorbing water, filtering it, slowing it down and even storing some of it for later use. This ultimately helps reduce the threat of sewer overflows, extends the life of a city's drain system and returns cleaner water to the surrounding watershed."
If you're recovering from an illness in one of the hospital's other towers, no doubt the view out the window of lush greenery instead of gray concrete helps, too.
> Related:13 Surprising Facts About Green Roofs
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.