Green Cities

Rooftop Farms Are the Next Step for Sustainable Cities

The image that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “sustainable city” might be one of futuristic rail systems and solar-paneled high rises, but perhaps some of the best solutions take a more earthy approach. Rooftop farms are becoming more and more popular worldwide, and for good reason. Farms established on top of urban buildings are environmentally friendly in many ways. They alleviate the urban heat island effect, which occurs when black roofs absorb sunlight and increase the temperature of urban areas. Rooftop farms or green roofs negate this effect, saving energy. They also curb energy costs by providing insulation for the building. Increasing plant coverage can help offset carbon emissions and absorb a significant amount of pollutants and storm water. In fact, one of the well-knownBrooklyn Grange farms received a grant from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Infrastructure Storm Water Management grant program for its success in reducing runoff and stress on city sewer systems. All those benefits come from green roofs. Rooftop farms, a subset of green roofs, have even more benefits in the form of delicious, fresh, local food. Rooftop farms can also be an educational resource for students to learn about biology and gardening. And perhaps the biggest benefit is the satisfaction of using otherwise unused space. The biggest names in rooftop farming are already making a difference. Brooklyn Grange produces 50,000 lbs of produce every year, but it is also doing its part as a leader, offering consulting and installation services for buildings interested in greening their roofs. Montreal’s Lufa Farms operates in a large rooftop greenhouse that can withstand even winter conditions. But there’s also a future in micro-gardening, the use of small spaces for cultivating crops. The do-it-yourself attitude and cost-effectiveness of micro-gardening could be a game-changer for urban families around the world. Sofia Crutchfield, Intern