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Cambridge, MA: Let’s green our rooftops in Cambridge

LETTER: Let’s green our rooftops in Cambridge

By: Hannah Mahoney
Stock Photo. Courtesy Photo

To the editor: 

Imagine a bird’s-eye fly-over view of our city. One sight it will include is black rooftop after black rooftop. Fly over a year from now, two years from now, and Cambridge Mothers Out Front wants many of those roofs to be home to pollinator meadows, vegetable gardens and a blend of vegetation and solar panels known as biosolar.

On Dec. 7, City Council unanimously voted to move Mothers Out Front’s proposed revised green roofs ordinance on to the Ordinance Committee. Under the revision, all new construction and significant rehabs over 20,000 square feet will be required to include vegetation or a biosolar setup on their rooftops.

What are the benefits of green roofs? They help mitigate climate change by reducing urban heat islands, retaining rainwater, absorbing carbon and reducing heating and cooling needs for their buildings. They provide habitats for pollinators and can be used to reduce food insecurity.

Many of these benefits are especially important in areas of the city with little green space, where rising summer temperatures pose health risks.

Innovative developments in materials and design mean that green roofs have become less expensive, as well as lighter. The upfront costs are balanced by reduced energy costs and by the fact that green roofs actually extend the life of a roof, resulting in net savings over time.

Green roofs also make buildings more attractive to buyers and renters. Local affordable housing developers are already including green roofs in their designs, providing helpful models.

Cities that have taken the lead on greening their rooftops include Toronto, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. Cambridge ought to join them.

– Hannah Mahoney, member of Cambridge Mothers Out Front