Binghamton is going green. Or, at least, the roof of city hall.
In a push to make the city more environmentally friendly, Binghamton Mayor Richard David is proposing legislation to install a "green roof" at 38 Hawley St. Green roofs, part of an increasing trend in cities throughout the U.S., absorb storm water and deflect heat. That, in turn, decreases pressure on a city's storm water management system and lowers air conditioning costs for the building.
David first announced the roughly $1.7 million project, which includes adding greenery to sidewalks around city hall, in his State of the City Feb. 27, calling it an "immediate symbol of ongoing progress with sustainability, resiliency and innovation." The roof alone is expected to decrease storm water runoff by 60 percent, or 325,000 gallons, annually, according to the city. With the added sidewalk greenery, that number will be roughly 835,000 gallons.
"It’s like the old phrase, 'Building a better mouse trap,'" said Stuart Gaffin, research scientist at Columbia University's Center for Climate Systems Research. "They’re better than any roof, and they’re beautiful."
The city will plant 22,500 sq. ft. of sedum, also known as stonecrops, on its roof. The plants will require minimal maintenance and will regrow each year. Binghamton will apply for state environmental grant funding for 90 percent of the project's cost.
Green roofs are thousands of years old — they were used in Ancient Mesopotamia and by the Vikings — but the modern technology can be traced back to Europe in the 1960s and '70s, said Rohan Lilauwala, senior researcher at Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a non-profit aimed at increasing green roof use across North America. In the 1980s and '90s, they started showing up in U.S. cities.