An article in last Monday’s Wall Street Journal, “How to Build a Greener City,” included a prominent photo of the green roof atop Chicago’s City Hall. Constructed in 2000 as a demonstration project, this may be the most publicized green roof in the country—part of Chicago’s effort to become “America’s greenest city” with efforts like the Green Alley Program and many others. But the inclusion of a stormwater technique within a larger context, especially in an article promoting long-term investment in new ideas and technologies, has got to be good for stormwater management generally.
The article, part of a special Environment section, included many different ideas for greening cities, such as micro wind turbines, micro hydropower, turning waste into a resource through such mechanisms as anaerobic digesters, and even “personal rapid transit”—something akin to mass transit but involving individual pods that give riders a bit more flexibility in their schedules and routes.
Getting people to view the reduction of stormwater runoff and pollutants as part of an overall trend toward green—even though other measures such as solar-panel-clad skyscrapers or futuristic-looking transportation systems might be sexier or easier for most people to understand—puts stormwater management in good company, bringing it to the attention of the many people who rarely think of it at all.
In describing the benefits of green roofs, the article focused on their ability to insulate buildings as well as their stormwater benefits. Green roofs do have many advantages, and although they’re still more widely used in Europe than in the US, they are catching on here as well. Yet they’re still a fairly expensive means of capturing stormwater and reducing runoff. If you were asked to contribute one single stormwater-related idea or technique to be included in a popular article covering the greening of America’s cities, what would it be?