By Evelyn Witterholt, RCS Reporter.
Back in March, Representative Nydia M. Velazquez introduced the Public School Green Rooftop Program, a bill that intends to allocate funding for green roofs on public schools. The bill seeks help from the Department of Energy in providing $500 million in grants to build and maintain the roofs. If passed, the grants would help install almost 14 million square feet of green roofs on schools all over the U.S.
While there are different kinds of green roofs, most are installed with the same materials. A layer of insulation is placed on an existing roof and then a membrane layer with a draining system is added on top of that. Soil is then spread and the school’s choice of biodiverse greenery is planted.
The sustainability of these roofs is widely substantiated. Senior project manager for Recover Green Roofs, Pete Ellis, states that installing green roofs leads to “improved air quality, reduced ambient temperature to alleviate urban heat island effects and the ability to capture and retain stormwater runoff.” Some estimates suggest that these roofs would retain 537 tons of carbon and 154 million gallons of stormwater. They would also help districts cut back on energy and maintenance costs as green roofs have a lifespan of 40 years as opposed to the standard 17 years regular roof membranes have.
Not only would green roofs promote sustainability in urban environments, but it also has a wide range of benefits for children in schools. The roofs provide opportunities to teach children how to grow plants and learn about the agricultural benefits of having a biodiverse environment. It would also encourage them to spend more time in nature, which is incredibly important for their development and wellbeing.
“My bill would allow students to gain firsthand knowledge of sustainable practices and witness the impact green initiatives can have on their community,” said Representative Velazquez in a press release. “By giving children experience with environmental and agricultural concepts early on, we open the door for a new generation of mindful, ecologically conscientious adults.”
Green roofs will be installed in mostly urban environments as there is not a lot of greenery in these areas. The bill would prioritize installing these roofs on schools serving low-income students.
Vicki Sando, a green roof consultant told Sierra Magazine that “regardless of whether or not it (the bill) passes, it’s providing general awareness to the general public and elected officials and helping our cause to improve communities and mitigate against climate change.”
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Photo credit: Recover Green Roofs
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