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Chicago Skyscapes: Chicago Botanic Garden

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The new Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center features a green roof that underscores the Garden's commitment to plant conservation.

Combining practical benefits with aesthetic appeal, the Green Roof Garden also provides an opportunity for research and education, serving as a living laboratory.

Two distinct areas serve specific functions: the Ellis Goodman Family Foundation Green Roof Garden South features regional and national native plants, many of which are not currently used as rooftop plants; the Josephine P. & John J. Louis Foundation Green Roof Garden North features a mix of plants known as good green roof plants, plus native and exotic plants that have potential for green roof use. Generally, the plants are sun loving, drought tolerant, have a shallow root system, and can withstand windy conditions.

Green roofs are an important component of sustainable urban development. According to the International Green Roof Association (IGRA), public benefits of green roofs include stormwater retention, a decrease in the urban heat island effect, a reduction of dust and smog, natural beauty, and the provision of a new habitat for plants. Benefits to the building itself include increased roof life, reduced noise levels, thermal insulation, and effectiveness as a heat shield during hot weather.

The Plant Science Center's Green Roof Garden manifests not only all of the benefits listed above, but serves as an outdoor classroom to thousands of Garden visitors annually; the 16,000-square-foot green roof is accessible to the public via a grand staircase, and an overlook with interpretive panels educates visitors about all aspects of rooftop gardens. The green roof also features an array of solar panels, which supply some of the building's power.

WHERE: Chicago Botanic Garden at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
chicago-botanic.org


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