Bus Shelter in Philly Gets a Mini-Green Roof

A new demonstration project by the Philadelphia Department of Water shows that a green roof can pop up in the unlikeliest places, even on top of a bus shelter. While the 60-square-foot mini-green roof captures just a few gallons of water a day, it’s located at a key junction at 15th and Market streets, one of the city’s busiest corners. This is on purpose. The green roof is designed to be a showcase and public education tool.

The $10,000 green roof, made possible through a donation by Roofmeadow, a local green roof business, features a downward spout so bus shelter users can actually see if water comes out during a rainstorm.

Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler told The Philadelphia Inquirer: “There are 10.5 acres of green roofs in Philadelphia, but they’re all on the tops of buildings. We want to try to bring it down to ground level to show every little bit of hardscape can be transformed into green space.” Tiffany Ledesma Groll, the project’s coordinator, hopes the initiative will also inspire homeowners. “A lot of the green roofs that are really fabulous and gorgeous are on high-rises. We thought it would be fun to bring it down to eye level.” The city will put up posters displaying links to a Web site so people can go learn how they can help sustainably manage the city’s stormwater.

Philadelphia surely ranks in the top five in terms of total acreage of green roofs, with 10.5 acres currently in place and another 11 acres under development. Chris Crockett, acting deputy commissioner of environmental services for the Water Department, said: “Every acre manages or eliminates roughly a million gallons of storm-water runoff a year in the city.”  He added that the current stock of green roofs could manage stormwater to fill a swimming pool the size of a city block with 5.5 feet of water.

Green roofs are a key component in Philadelphia’s $2 billion green infrastructure program (see earlier post), which just won state approval. In fact, green roofs are a highly cost effective way to deal with the stormwater that often overwhelms the city’s aging underground combined water and sewer system. The problem is real: When a heavy storm hits, the system backs up raw sewage and road dirt into streams and people’s basements, causing health problems.

Learn more about “Green City, Clean Waters,” Philadelphia Water Department’s bold program to use green infrastructure to manage stormwater and a map of all the projects now underway. Also, check out progress in the city’s overall sustainability plan, “GreenWorks Philadelphia.”

Image credits: Philadelphia Department of Water, Office of Watersheds

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