Save Energy With A Green Roof – Creating Rooftop Oases For Cleaner Rivers

Downtown Durham Green RoofsHere in our North Carolina office, in downtown Durham, I can look out the window at all of the many old buildings many of which are being redeveloped as part of Durham’s downtown revitalization. But – it would be incredible to look out and see an oasis of green – green roofs, that is. American Rivers is working with the City of Durham and Downtown Durham Inc to do just that – create a cool and attractive addition to city rooftops that will also be good for clean water.

In Durham and in towns and cities across the country, communities are struggling with how to fix and replace failing and outdated infrastructure and meet new demand to manage stormwater and protect clean water.  Green infrastructure practices can offer a cost-effective alternative to managing polluted runoff by capturing and treating rainwater where it falls. These practices help communities protect clean water and save money – going green to save green.

Not only can green infrastructure practices cost less, they can also help communities save on energy costs, reduce flooding, and benefit public health.  In our upcoming report, Banking on Green, we examine the cost-effectiveness of green infrastructure practices and the benefits they can provide to communities beyond clean water.

On average, green roofs like the ones in we expect to see in Durham are 60°F cooler than conventional black roofs in the summer. In Washington, DC, the green roof on the American Society of Landscape Architect’s building reduces building energy use by as much as 10 percent in the winter. The green roof on a FedEx facility at Chicago O’Hare Airport covers nearly 175,000 square feet, captures an estimated 2 million gallons of stormwater every year, and saves the company an average of $35,000 in energy costs annually.

These cost savings can be significant beyond the local level as well. Between 2003 and 2035, there will be 110 billion square feet of commercial real estate in the United States. If green roofs had been built on all of those roofs since 2003, business and property owners could save an estimated $95 billion dollars a year in avoided heating, cooling, and roof replacement costs.

Check out our report coming this week to find out more about the ways that green infrastructure can help reduce energy costs!