Succulent Roofs

Fieldston School by Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research

One of my biggest blog fans (aka, my sister) sent me an interesting article from the Times about Columbia University’s Center for Climate Systems Research and their succulent roofs. Succulents? Why not the usual grass? It seems fairly obvious when explained to you by an uber intelligent scientist like the Center’s Stuart Gaffin:

[Succulents] sop up and vaporize rainwater before it can jam the city sewage treatment plants; they cut summer heat that can exceed 170 degrees on a roof. No mowing required. “They’re nature’s geniuses at staying cool,” Mr. Gaffin says, while stepping across the resilient mat of sedum plants flourishing high over West 112th Street. He gestures to the city panorama and estimates 30 square miles of unused rooftop acreage that could be vegetating. “Twenty times Central Park!” he declares, sounding like a producer coveting Broadway…[The roofs] have a weird urban serenity. Far from streetwise rats, the worst critters that have shown up are butterflies and crickets.

Of course, succulents! Grass may be the most resilient plant, constantly regenerating, even after frost or mildfire, but succulents…these are desert plants used to extreme temperature changes daily. Genius. I would love to get involved with this somehow–add it to the growing naturey to-dos, stat!

I also really just want to walk on that roof. Barefoot if possible.

Green Roof photo: CCSR

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