5 Awesome Green Roof Projects

By Phoebe Ryles
Phoebe Ryles
Phoebe Ryles
August 23, 2013 Updated: August 23, 2013

Rooftop gardens are beautiful and useful. They capture rainwater, relieve pressure on city storm drains and sewer systems, and reduce surface heat by absorbing the sun’s rays.

They can be productive farms, contemplative parks or quaint gardens. They can provide peace and quiet high above city streets and a safe place to grow lettuce and tomatoes, far above the reach of hungry local fauna. Here are five completely different and totally awesome green roof projects:


1. Whole Foods Market (Lynnfield, Mass)


Awesome for Food: A 17,000 square foot food garden built on the roof of a Whole Foods Market in Lynnfield Mass. Designed by Recover Green Roof LLC, the garden will supply hyper local organic produce to the market.

It will be tended by Green City Growers of Somerville, Mass., which expects to harvest 10,000 pounds of produce a year.


2. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (Cambridge, Mass)


Awesome for Community: The new green roof at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge Mass., was designed by students in an effort promote green roofs as a part of a competition by Education First. Incoming freshman in the Rise Up youth summer program planted the garden this summer, according to Boston.com. It should be in full bloom by the time school starts.


3. Annette L. Olson (Washington, DC)


Awesome for Beauty: Annette L. Olson, a homeowner in the Washington D.C. area, needed to replace an aging porch roof and was tired of looking at ugly asphalt shingles. She decided to install a lovely rooftop garden and blogged about the process for Washington Post. One year later, her roof is in full bloom, attracting butterflies and appreciative comments from neighbors.


4. Harvard Law School Wasserstein Hall (Cambridge, Mass)


Awesome for Peace and Quiet: Students walk along winding stone paths and sit on low walls chatting in the quiet garden space atop the loading dock of Harvard Law School’s new Wasserstein Hall. It’s easy to forget the garden is 25 feet in the air. The green roof garden was one of many design elements contributing the buildings’ LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.


5. Chicago Botanic Garden (Chicago, Ill)


Awesome for Scientific Discovery: The 16,000 square foot roof of the Chicago Botanic Garden is a living laboratory. Approximately 40,000 plants from 200 different species are a part of the largest roof garden research project yet. The goal: to find out what types of plants are most effective for roof gardens.

Phoebe Ryles
Phoebe Ryles