7 Ways Cities Are Transforming Urban Rooftops

Sourced from Curbed

Over the past few years, a sweeping construction boom has rendered U.S. cities ever denser, but there’s one type of urban space that’s still an untapped resource: rooftops.

Sure, every city lover can name a handful of rooftop patios with great views or a favorite rooftop hotel pool. But for the most part, roofs remain in the domain of the squarely utilitarian, home to chimneys, air ducts, and satellite dishes. That can change.

According to Steven Peck of the Toronto-based non-profit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, “The roofscapes of our cities are the last urban frontier—from 15 percent to 35 percent of the total land area.” They can offer much more than just a pretty view. For example, rooftops can provide room to grow food, build affordable housing, and green our cities, to name a few. And making roofs more sustainable—and installing “smart surfaces” like green roofs and solar panels”—could be a cost-effective design solution that could save cities millions, and even billions, of dollars.

Below, check out seven ways urbanites are transforming roofs from empty dead spots into spaces for innovation.

Green roofs

A common way to transform an unsightly rooftop is to add greenery. But vegetation can do far more than create an urban oasis. Green roofs covered in plants can reduce stormwater run-off, lower cooling costs, and combat the urban heat island effect.

One compelling example comes from Vietnamese architect Hung Nguyen, who designed a roof pavilion covered in plants with air-purifying properties. Other homeowners use drought tolerant, low-maintenanceboth plants like sedum to create a green roof that can withstand even harsh winter climates.

The potential of green roofs have made them a hot-button issue in cities; in November 2017 Denver, Colorado, voters passed an initiative that requires any new construction with a gross floor area of 25,000 square feet or greater to include a living roof with vegetation and/or solar panels.

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