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Have you ever looked up and thought ‘what a beautiful roof’? With this latest architectural trend, you just might start.

Green or living roofs are transforming the tops of buildings into environmentally friendly urban greeneries. Getting some green on your roof does more than improve the aesthetics; it also captures pollutants, moderates building temperature and retains rainwater.

Last April, France passed a law mandating all new buildings in commercial areas be partially topped with solar panels or living roofs. There are many benefits that come from implementation of living roofs, particularly for cities. The roof’s vegetation reduces the distribution of smog and cool bustling cities in the summer, thereby reducing the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect.

Because of these benefactors, major cities in North America are jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, research by the National Research Council of Canada found that green roofs reduced the energy demand for air conditioning in the summer by over 75% (Liu 2003). Anyone who has been lived through a humid East Coast summer can appreciate that.

On September 9th, Rafael Viñoly announced plan to create the largest green roof in the world by transforming an old shopping center in Silicon Valley. If the proposed plan were passed, the rooftop park would spread across 30 acres, which is over 30 football fields long and would take around 5 hours to walk.

On the other side of the country, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the Canaan Baptist Church announced the Harlem Green Infrastructure Initiative, which is a long term plan to integrate green roofs and sustainable technology intoHarlem. They aim to aesthetically and environmentally improve the area while stimulating the local economy.

So, welcome to the era of green(er) cities! While living roofs won’t solve climate change, they’re certainly a step in the right direction.