The Grass is Always Greener…

The Denver Green Roof Initiative passed earlier this month.  Initiative 300 requires new buildings of 25,000 square feet or larger to devote a portion of the roof to gardens and other green coverings that would absorb rainfall and reduce heat.  Some existing buildings will need to upgrade to green when their roofs are replaced.

The technical aspect will be addressed by an 11 member Green Roof Technical Advisory Group appointed by the Mayor of Denver.  The members “shall possess expert knowledge and professional qualifications concerning green roof technology and have a working familiarity with the building code.”

Initiative 300 may paints an idyllic image of lush rooftop gardens.  It certainly has aesthetic appeal, but I am a born cynic.  I submit my doubts to the Emerging Professionals audience for debate and insight. (I am just a legal geek, after all.)

Is the Green Roof Initiative a good thing or could it prove to be a misguided trend?

  1. I assume green roofs involve dirt, irrigation, plants, and probably some heavy duty membrane to stop leaks.  Doesn’t that require significant structural support for the roof?
  2. Perhaps I am naive but won’t the increased load create significant structural modifications for those older buildings required to “go green” when their roofs are replaced? That can’t be cheap.
  3. What other cities have successfully implemented green roof mandates? How do their climates compare to Denver? Cue #4…
  4. How will owners maintain green roofs in the face of drought and water restrictions? Seems counter-intuitive to require vegetation on our roofs when water conservation is so important.
  5. Are snow loads a concern? Don’t all these green roofs have to be relatively flat? What is going to happen when Denver gets a record heavy, wet snowfall?

I am looking forward to hearing from you…and see what the Technical Advisory Group produces.


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