Thursday, June 26, 2008

Green Roofs in China, Helping Beijing Breathe

The greatest inspiration for me to blog about green roofs was my trip to Shanghai, China in January of 2008. There I saw incredible air pollution, which literally was choking.

While I sat in several different office buildings, many stories into the skyline, I observed huge swaths of flat roofs, mostly black, sitting idle. Additionally, I remembered the discussion about how energy starved Shanghai is, as well as concerns about water.

As one of my meetings ran long, and somewhat boring, I began to map out a strategy of how Shanghai could adopt flat green roofs, reduce air pollution, and minimize storm water runoff. I admit, the plan was grandiose, so that's why I settled on a blog instead.

It turns out that in 2006, several stories ran about green roofs in Beijing, where, according to the US embassy, has worse air pollution than Shanghai. Here are some quotes from articles at that time. There is also a nice mention of LEED in there.

"The Beijing Linked Hybrid project, a self-contained city of linked vertical buildings designed by Holl, includes hundreds of apartments as well as stores and schools, and every roof is green. Storm water collected in rooftops will help feed a self-sustaining water system to protect the buildings against water shortages in Beijing, Holl explained.

"They want it and they're willing to pay for it," Holl said of his Chinese clients.

China launched a nationwide drive last month to make energy-saving buildings that help ease fuel shortages and reduce greenhouse gases. The country has also signed an agreement with the United Nations to promote environmentally friendly practices in staging the 2008 Beijing Olympics."
from "Landscape architects tend to a green roof" found at

From the Christian Science Monitor:

""There isn't much pressure for us to promote the green concept," said science ministry official Yang Guoxiong at last week's green inauguration.

"The national government has incredible intentions for a green future." says Mr. Mars. "Really mind-boggling. But we are in an interesting paradox, and I am asking, 'Is it better to have high ambitions, or to be realistic?' "

Let's hope the rest of China can catch the green roof wave and bring clean air to their cities and citizens.

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