How important is it to have more "green" in our cities? And by "green" I mean grass, trees and various other plants. Having proper vegetation in any area including a city is important because it influences temperature, air quality and runoff water. Vegetation located in a few city parks or planted between sidewalks and streets are not sufficient and not just because of inadequate quantity but also because of location.
So one solution to this city dilemma is green rooftops, where grass and sometimes trees and other plants are grown and maintained. These green roofs could overtime help control temperature, improve air quality and reduce runoff water. On the other hand, green roofs would only make a significant impact in these areas if enough buildings in a city converted their roofs to a “green” one. Unfortunately, they can be expensive to install and maintain, and some building rooftops could not handle the weight of a green roof.
Other ways to make our steel, concrete and glass cities more “green” are adding more vegetation along streets and developing more parks. The problem with this approach is it is more like a band-aid than a real systemic solution; and band-aids do not solve the problem or last forever. On the other hand, it is not to say that roadside trees and parks could not be a part of the solution; it is just not the whole solution.
Although it may take more time to develop and implement, a systemic approach would be more effective. Since cities cannot be torn down and rebuilt, a landscape renovation or re-vegetation program would be more like adding central air to a house versus building a brand new house. Because our cities are vastly different, a program that is flexible and yet has the same basic elements and goals would be most effective and ideal.
Our cities have many environmentally friendly qualities like public transportation, but improving cities’ landscape could further benefit our city environment and our health. When you think of your backyard or your living room with its potted plants, think not just about the better air quality, but about the warm and inviting atmosphere a few plants bring into your life.
Get involved in community development
Evaluate your roof and current landscape
Buy and plant native plants
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Green Roofs for Stormwater Runoff Control; February 2009