Green Roofs Greener Than Thought

  • The rock, soil and tiny plants in a green roof help insulate a building. That can cut heating and cooling costs. (Photo courtesy of the USDA)

Green roofs are a popular, but
expensive, way for building owners
to prove their green credentials.
Shawn Allee reports some
researchers feel they might do even
more environmental good than they
thought:

Transcript

Green roofs are a popular, but
expensive, way for building owners
to prove their green credentials.
Shawn Allee reports some
researchers feel they might do even
more environmental good than they
thought:

The rock, soil and tiny plants in a green roof help insulate a building.
That can cut heating and cooling costs.

Researchers at Michigan State University think they’ve found another
benefit, too.

Brad Rowe says the tiny plants absorb carbon from the air. Rowe says the
plants are small, so this carbon sequestration effect is small, too. But
he says green roofs are still better than plain-jane roofs.

“You have all these roofs everywhere and basically, they’re doing nothing
– they’re essentially dead. So, putting plants on them is one way to
sequester carbon above ground, in the leaves and stems, the roots, and even
in the soil that’s on top of the roof.”

Rowe says if Congress ever puts a price on carbon emissions, green roof
owners might get credit for sequestering carbon – and that could cut a
green roof’s high price tag.

For The Environment Report, I’m Shawn Allee.

Related Links

Climate Change Affecting Backyard Wildlife

A recent study in the scientific journal Nature suggests the effects of global warming can be seen in people’s backyards. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:

Transcript

A recent study in the scientific journal Nature suggests the effects of global warming
can be seen in people’s backyards. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:


The study compiles data from scientific papers on climate change and from personal
nature recordings from people all over the world. It finds that plants and animals
appear to be changing their behavior in response to increases in the average global
temperature over the past century.


Michigan State University researcher Kim Hall contributed to the report. She says
for many species, spring events are happening about five days earlier every ten years.


“Those include things like the first arrival dates of birds when they’re migrating into
their summer habitat. Also, sounds, like the first calls of frogs and toads when they
begin the breeding season in the spring. And there’s a lot of different things
related to the timing of plants, such as the first time they bloom in
the spring or when fruits arrive.”


Hall says it isn’t known how earlier springs will affect the environment. But she says they
could spell trouble for many species if food supplies and habitats are not protected.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Erin Toner.