Miro handing sheets of sedum plant for the planting of the green roof at Lincoln Street Art Park in Detroit, MI.

As more cities develop plans to combat climate change and increase sustainability, green roofs are becoming an increasingly popular option to combat the effects of a warming planet. As CNN reportedresearch conducted by Michigan State University found that green roofs are great at cooling buildings, reducing flood risk, slashing polluting emissions and providing spaces for nature to thrive. As the earth’s temperature warms, species decline and humanity migrates to cities, urban planners are trying to find innovative solutions to bring biodiversity back into the most heavily populated of environments–and are increasingly turning into green roofing.
Yesterday was my (Miro’s) first day at the Sustainable Brands conference in Detroit and I spent the first half of my day volunteering to green an urban art park with Timberland as part of their commitment to green 500,000 square feet of urban space in U.S. cities by 2023. My team was tasked with building a green roof for a community building with the help of a local living architecture firm and getting to experience first hand the ingenuity that goes into these urban green spaces was truly eye-opening. It was really hard work mixing sand, compost and composite, hauling it in buckets, and then loading sheets of sedum plant onto a roof but creating a living environment at the site of a long-abandoned Lincoln car factory was the embodiment of the green development happening in Detroit.
Detroit’s urban gardens are part of its heritage and have become an integral part of the city’s revitalization, make sure you check them out if you visit.
Why This Matters: As average summer temperatures rise–especially at night when then they don’t drop-cities around the world are grappling with how to fight extreme heat. While ultimately the solution will come down to bold action on climate change, measures like green roofs and increased tree canopy in cities can not only keep building temperatures below dangerous thresholds but can also help save species by providing habitat. Fast and Company called planting trees and plants, the best thing cities can do for themselves to help fight the climate crisis and remain liveable.

Lafayette Greens urban green space in downtown Detroit.

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