..Victoria Barkley..

Green Roofs, Weeds and Wildflowers

A garden on every available rooftop around the world is my heart's desire for Terra Gaia. So, last Earth Day, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced incentives for construction and installation of green rooftops in his greening of New York City by 2030 proposal, I jumped for joy.

Six seems to be the Mayor's magic number: There are six pilot projects in the works, in all five boroughs, to determine if green roofs might be part of the answer to reducing energy consumption and minimizing urban development's negative impact on the environment; and six turbines in the East River harnessing water current to generate electric power. I wonder if his push for one million trees was not set in motion by half-a-dozen of them planted first on a side street in the South Bronx.

Six of anything may not seem like much in a labyrinth of concrete and tar like the Big Apple, but it's a beginning. Mayor Bloomberg encourages, gradually building momentum: "You start with one and then maybe the guy next door will do it and then the one next door to that..." Yup, before sundown, he'll have six more people looking for soil on our block and we'll be scratching our heads trying to figure out how to quietly mow the lawn up there.

"If I'm bragging to you over dinner that my energy bills went down this summer because I didn't need as much air conditioning," Bloomberg continues, offering a possible scenario, "the response could be, 'I just got my energy bill and it's pretty high... well, maybe I'll do the same thing'..." Our mayor is definitely an optimist.

The sheer beauty of growing flowering weeds, grass and moss, on the roof — once it catches on, might be the next best step toward regulating summer and winter building temperatures, reducing air pollution, absorbing rain water, protecting building materials from the elements, and attracting a variety of birds.

The higher cost of installation would be mitigated by a proposed property tax abatement and pay for itself over time in both energy efficiency and esthetic appeal. These incentives will be available for five years, starting in 2007. Who knows how many green rooftops will have sprouted nearing the end of that trial period. By the sixth year, Manhattan just might bloom into a great big beautiful garden in the sky, closely resembling the one in my imagination. I certainly hope so.

Now, what I want to know is this: Do we need a building permit to construct a doghouse on the roof? What about a mini petting zoo? Central Park, look out, you've got competition.

Other stories by Victoria Barkley:
Silver Sixpence in her Shoe
Breakfast with Scot – movie review
Sex Drive – movie review
What Just Happened – movie review
American Teen – movie review
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – movie review
A Message From Mom
A Tale of Two Bunnies
Animal Nature
Into the Wild – movie review
Darshan in the Dark Light of the Moon
Love Never Dies
Greeting Sunrise
Arctic Tale – movie review
Seasons of Gandhi

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