Chicago's Green Roof City Hall


It has been nine years since Chicago’s Mayor, Richard Daley, announced there would be a ‘green roof’ laid on top of the City Hall. Back then, his fellow advisories and colleagues thought he had gone mad!

The 20,000 sq ft garden sits atop the 12 story building. Since having the green roof, every year the total energy costs for the whole City Hall have seen a $5,000 reduction. Mainly because the plants and grass absorb the sun’s rays through the summer months, and insulate the building in the winter months. Also, the plants absorb around 60% of the rain-water which lands on the roof; this offsets the costs of paying local businesses that control the runoff of storm water.

Back in 2001, this was a brave move for the City Hall, but as more and more people see the amount of savings, more and more people have decided to give the green roof a go. For example, Scott and Ruth McElroy from Vancouver invested in a $4,000 roof and immediately saw a $25 reduction in their monthly energy costs.

It’s not just the residents and government offices who have joined in with the green craze; Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Michigan has an extraordinary 10 acres of vegetation spanning their rooftops. If one of the largest car firms in the world are benefiting from not only reducing energy costs, but helping to protect and bolster the environmental impact of factories and the concrete jungle of cities, then it is about time all of us consider that route.

Mayor Daley stated that the government bodies were always pointing their fingers at businesses and residential areas, but he was a pioneer in looking at the impact of his own offices. By tackling environment issues, and taking a stance using a green roof on top of the City Hall, this is a perfect way of leading by example. Nowadays, schools, libraries and general stores are all jumping on the green roof bandwagon and this is only having a positive effect on the environment.

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