GREEN AND BIOSOLAR ROOFS A BIG WIN FOR CAMBRIDGE!
May 11, 2021
This is a fantastic example of a citizen led effort to promote green roof development in their community to help fight climate change.”
Steven Peck, President, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.
Chicago City Hall, source: Roofmeadow, Inc.
A VISION FOR CAMBRIDGE.
More than two years ago, attendees at a community meeting of the Cambridge chapter of Mothers Out Front dared to imagine what their city could become if its rooftops were transformed by pollinator-friendly gardens, meadows, and a farm or two. And they asked, “What if these roofs also had solar panels offering even more benefits to Cambridge residents?”
DARE TO IMAGINE GREEN ROOFS BY CLICKING HERE. Green roofs video by John MacGibbon
A FIRST FOR NEW ENGLAND.
Thus began a focused campaign to bring a revised green roofs ordinance to the Cambridge City Council. On Monday, May 3, six members of the council agreed with that vision and voted in favor of the first green roofs mandate by a New England city. The revised ordinance will require certain new buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to include plantings or an integration of plantings and solar panels (a combination known as biosolar) on their roofs. By passing this ordinance, Cambridge joins Portland, Oregon, Seattle, New York City, Washington, D.C., and several other U.S. cities with policies putting green roofs on their buildings.
Standard Chartered Bank, London, source: Zinco Worldwide
Cambridge Mothers Out Front recognizes that buildings are responsible for much of our greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change. Vegetative roofs provide systemic climate solutions by reducing buildings’ energy use, filtering air pollutants, mitigating stormwater flooding, and offering mental health benefits, which makes this groundbreaking measure a huge win for Cambridge residents.”
Melissa Ludtke, MOF Green Roofs task force member
MULTIPLE BENEFITS OF GREEN AND BIOSOLAR ROOFS.
As the Cambridge green roofs task force members researched what other cities were doing, they visited green roofs in the Greater Boston area and talked with experts throughout the country. They learned that vegetative and biosolar roofs offer a spectrum of benefits that are especially meaningful in one of the most densely populated cities in New England, such as reduction in heat island effects and stormwater management.
Green roofs task force members and some Cambridge City Councillors listen to BostonMedical Center farmer Lindsey Allen on BMC’s rooftop farm.
photo: Cambridge Mothers Out Front
EDUCATION, COMMUNICATION, DEVELOPING RELATIONSHIPS.
To build support with city council members and the broader community, the task force communicated what it was learning about vegetative and biosolar roofs. This outreach was integral to the team’s strategy. This included building trusted relationships with city councillors, affordable housing advocates, city staff, and community members. Task force members also wrote op-eds for local news outlets, created flyers and one-page fact sheets for easy access to information, and they hosted an informational webinar with 160 attendees. Regular updates about this effort were published in the chapter’s monthly newsletter, Cambridge Climate Connector. When it was time to collect signatures for the petition (a required step in the city’s process), volunteers collected 450 hard-copy signatures during the pandemic last November.
Cambridge residential green roof by Sam Kachmar, Architects
IT TAKES A VILLAGE.
This Cambridge task force worked hard to bring its vision of green roofs in Cambridge over the finish line. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the companionship of many experts who shared their proficiency in shaping the petition, gave presentations at the green roofs webinar, and spoke at public hearings to educate and inform public officials and residents. These partners include: Lindsay Allen, Boston Medical Center rooftop farm manager; Pete Ellis, senior project manager at Recover Green Roofs in Somerville; Elizabeth Hart Morris, the president of GRiT, who championed green roofs in Portland, Oregon; and Phil Dowds, a Cambridge resident who provided design and zoning expertise. Numerous green roof advocates wrote emails, gave moving and persuasive testimony at City Council meetings, gathered petition signatures, tweeted, and otherwise made sure their support was known.
With the passage of this Ordinance, Cambridge joins a growing list of cities across North America to have required green roofs in recent years. The proliferation of green roofs is contributing significantly to carbon reduction and climate change efforts, resulting in cost savings for buildings, while adding value and quality to respective properties and those around them. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities commends the City of Cambridge for taking this bold and impactful action.”
Jeff Joslin, Board Member, Policy Committee Co-Chair Green Roofs for Healthy Cities
BIG THANKS TO CITY OFFICIALS.
A special thank-you to Cambridge City Councillors Dennis Carlone, who offered steady guidance from the beginning, and Patty Nolan, who worked hard to harness the facts and retain as much of the original intent as possible. Other favorable votes were issued by Quentin Zondervan, Marc McGovern, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, and Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui.
- Boston Medical Center Rooftop Farm
- Green Roofs & Stormwater Management (State of Massachusetts)
- Green Roofs for Healthy Cities
- Recover Green Roofs
- The Green Roof info Think-tank (GRiT)
- Using Green Roofs to Reduce Heat Islands (EPA)