Austin to Grow Green Roofs

New city-appointed group explores strategies for encouraging green roofs

City Council Member Chris Riley's office is coordinating the city's new green roof stakeholder group, recently created by council resolution. Members meet Thursday, Sept. 10, to discuss their charge to recommend city incentives (such as energy and stormwater credits) to encourage green roofs. Members will holistically consider green infrastructure, as well. The international green roof movement encourages covering city rooftops with engineered soil and vegetation; benefits include energy efficiency (insulation), reducing the urban heat-island effect, absorbing rainwater, providing bird/wildlife habitat, creating high-rise lawns and gardens, and providing attractive high-rise views. Riley aide Marisa Ballas said Mike Martinez and Randi Shade also have been involved. Design Commissioner and landscape architect Eleanor McKinney is among the group's leaders; Green Roofs for Healthy Cities recently named McKinney as the first certified green roof professional in Austin. McKinney said the city of Portland requires that all new city-owned buildings have a green roof that covers at least 70% of the surface; Toronto, New York, and Philadelphia are encouraging green roofs through funding or tax credit incentives. Austin's stakeholder group includes representatives from Austin Energy, Austin Water Utility, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the city's Green Building program, and other go-green organizations. 

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