Raise the Green Roof

Sourced from the Scout Somerville

Tell us about yourself and how you got to the point of founding this company.

I started working for a wastewater engineering company that used plants and bacteria to treat wastewater. We were using living systems to provide a traditionally mechanical function for a building.

I was cleaning a filter one day, which is really gross, and a piece came on WBUR about green roofs. They were also talking about a lot of the challenges involved in green roofs, in that they’re very new, they’re living, and basically all of the challenges they were identifying of integrating new environmental technology were the challenges I dealt with every day at that job, but all those challenges involved rainwater and stormwater, not wastewater. And so I was like, “This sounds way better.”

We got into it to build stormwater management gardens and create green space. That focus has definitely evolved, in terms of the complexity of projects we’re doing now, we’re doing everything from large, half-acre stormwater management gardens to complex and high-end amenity roofs that are creating green space for people, and so basically building parks on the roofs of buildings and trying to bring purpose to underutilized space on a building in an urban area.

Can you define stormwater management?

Stormwater management refers to rainwater that is falling on impervious surfaces in a city, so that could be roofs, that could be sidewalks, parking lots, and basically that surface water runs off into the sewage system. In old cities like Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, we have what’s called a combined sewage system, and that means the water from our sinks, showers, and toilets leaves a building and goes out under the street and enters the same pipes as the sewer grates that collect rainwater. So rainwater becomes contaminated as soon as it enters the sewer systems, and any time it rains in Boston more than three-quarters of an inch in 24 hours, we’re getting sewage released into the Charles River, the Mystic River, and Boston Harbor. So stormwater management refers to the goal of trying to reduce rainwater from entering that waste stream.

It is something that we’re trying to raise more awareness of. People don’t realize that our waterways are regularly being polluted. It’s an environmental issue, it’s a people issue, and it’s an economic issue.

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