Although they may not be easily visible from the street, the roofs of UMass Lowell’s buildings are gradually becoming home to numerous plant species.
In fact, this is intentional! Research is proving that green roofs have numerous benefits, and so we are partnering with a student group on campus called UMass Lowell Green Roofs to merge nature with architecture on campus.
When rain falls onto stone, metal, wooden shingles, or other such impervious surfaces, it often runs off immediately. If there is enough rain, this could lead to flooding, and even if the rain is light enough this can still lead to a number of airborne contaminants that the rain collects flowing straight into rivers, lakes, or the ocean. Luckily, green roofs have the ability to absorb water (they can hold 60-100% of rainfall) and thus reduce and slow down runoff, and the plants on them can actually work to deactivate toxins in the rainwater.
Normal roofs absorb radiation from the sun, and this absorbed energy often heats cities moreso than surrounding forests to create what is so-called a “heat island”. Green roofs work to bring the forest to the city, allowing that light radiation to be absorbed and turned into more plants.
Aligned with our work as a Bee Campus and in creating pollinator gardens on ground level, green roofs allow local species to exist and help us exist in such an urban environment.
Green roofs sequester airborne carbon dioxide, which reduces the current man-made global warming that we are facing now. Additionally, the reduced energy costs for cooling also support our goal for net carbon emission neutrality on campus.
These facts and more are available on Michigan State University's website!