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Seattle green roofs

Posted on October 25th, 2012 by Andy

Green roof at the Seattle Justice Center, 600 Fifth Ave., Seattle. Photo by Ecoyards

We recently had a chance to check out one of Seattle’s many green roofs, sometimes called eco-roofs or vegetated roofs. The 12th floor jury assembly room at the Seattle Justice Center opens into a terrace where you can view a green roof in action. We got to check it out on a recent overcast day.

As you may know, green roofs provide an innovative solution to the problem of stormwater pollution and runoff. Green roofs may include drought-tolerant plants or they may be extensive lush roof-top gardens. The idea is that the plants will help absorb pollution, slow polluted runoff into streams, while providing some insulation to the building.

The Seattle Justice Center was the city’s first municipal green roof. It was built in the summer of 2004 and has about 7,300 square feet of green roof. It’s had some challenges, including being overtaken with weeds and about one-third of the plants during the establishment period had to be replaced. Many of the plants used are low-maintenance, including beach strawberry and Point Reyes creeper.

Seattle Tilth Green Roof. Photo by Camera Wences, via Flickr Creative Commons.

A December 2009 survey in Seattle found there were about 62 green roofs in the city, including extensive and intensive green roofs and large rooftop gardens. The green roofs covered a total of 359,375 square feet. They seem fairly evenly split between small, medium and large sizes. Most of them are found in centrally located neighborhoods with few in the Southeast and industrial areas. The vegetated area is still relatively small, about 8.5 acres of pervious surface out of the city’s total roof surface area of 13,150 acres.

This map shows just a smattering of the green roofs in Seattle, from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to Seattle City Hall to the Harborview Medical Center garage. The city has been pushing to get more green roofs built, allowing developers to get some credit for the stormwater benefits that come with green roofs.

National Geographic published a beautiful photo gallery of green roofs from around the word.

Filed under:Seattle Landscape Maintenance | |

2 Comments (Go to comments form)

  1. Posted by Charlie

    December 11, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

    The map was a real find for me. I have been following the expansion of green roofs and find information hard to come by. This was extremely useful, thank you.

  2. Posted by Andy

    December 12, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    Hi Charlie, Glad it was helpful. It would be great to see a more comprehensive map of Seattle green roofs. Have you checked out Portland’s tour map of green roofs?

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