Chicago’s Green Roofs

Thanks to Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago surpasses all other United States cities when it comes to green roofs. With over 600 green roofs Chicago is paving the green way for other large cities throughout the United States and the rest of the world.

Green roofs, or rooftop gardens, consist of the following components:

  1. Plants
  2. Growing Material (soil, or specifically engineered material)
  3. Filter Cloth (covers soil, contains plant roots, allows for water penetration)
  4. Drainage Layer
  5. Root Barrier
  6. Waterproofing Membrane (root repelling as well)
  7. Roof deck

According to the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment, “Green roofs improve air quality, conserve energy, reduce storm

Chicagos First Green Roof

Chicago's "First" Green Roof

water runoff and help reduce the urban heat island effect.”

The Chicago City Hall, which was completed in 2001, serves as an example of  a burgeoning green roof in an urban area. This roof was the recipient of the American Society of Landscape Architects 2002 Professional Merit Award, and is currently on average seven degrees cooler than surrounding roofs and as much as 30 degrees cooler in the summer.

In addition to aesthic reasons, there are many benefits for green reasons including energy savings and increase in health. According to, other reasons for turning your roof  into a green paradise include:

  • the potential to minimize the size of HVAC equipment on new or retrofitted buildings,
  • the possibility to include cooling and water treatment functions, and
  • savings on energy heating and cooling costs.

So, where are these green roofs? To view a map of Chicago’s green roofs and learn more about green roofs visit

1 Comment

  1. Barbara said,

    May 28, 2009 at 7:52 am

    What a wonderful idea! It really helps to “humanize” the urban environment!

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