Sky Garden: Empire State Building Gets a Massive Green Roof

Occupants of the upper floors of the Empire State Building now have a lush, green space to relax thanks to four large green roofs spanning 9,100 square feet. The gardens, installed by Xero Flor America, consist of mats of succulents that help insulate the building and bring a bit of nature to a man-made tower in the sky.

Each of the green roofs, located on four different floors, help filter storm water runoff as well as dust and pollutants. Xero Flor installed pre-planted mats that were rolled out on the terrace spaces and joined to create a ‘carpet’ of greenery.

The new green roofs are part of an effort to retrofit the 102-story Empire State Building, which was completed in 1931, to make it more modern and sustainable. In 2010, the skyscraper underwent a $550 million renovation, with its 6,500 windows replaced with ‘superwindows’ that allow light in while blocking heat. Air conditioning costs managed to drop so low, $17 million of the cost was regained immediately.

Green roofs come in all shapes and sizes, from small ones on sheds and doghouses to massive, park-like areas on large urban structures. Some buildings even get eye-catching, heat-absorbing vertical greenery on their indoor and outdoor wall surfaces.


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