Rooftop Garden atop Chicago City Hall Helps Reduce the Urban ‘Heat Island Effect’

chicago-city-hall-rooftop-garden (Image: TonyTheTiger, cc-sa-3.0)

The green web was buzzing in 2001 when a rooftop garden appeared atop Chicago City Hall to curb what is termed the ‘urban heat island effect‘, a phenomenon created when black-top roofs and asphalt parking lots soak up heat and increase city temperatures on hot summer days. And as these photos by John Tolva demonstrate, the garden continues to flourish more than a decade later.

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chicago-city-hall-rooftop-garden-3

chicago-city-hall-rooftop-garden-4 (Images: John Tolva, cc-nc-sa-3.0)

When the rooftop garden first opened, Chicago’s Department of Environment commissioner Marcia Jiminez told Voice of America that green plants and light coloured paving on the roof helped keep the building cooler while using less energy.

chicago-city-hall-rooftop-garden-5

chicago-city-hall-rooftop-garden-6

chicago-city-hall-rooftop-garden-7 (Images: John Tolva, cc-nc-sa-3.0)

While scientists busy themselves studying which animals, insects and butterflies have made their home on City Hall, the garden reduces water run-off by soaking-up 75 per cent of rain, helping curb problems with overflowing drains and sewer capacity. In theory, enough rooftop gardens would reduce storm water run-off and drainage problems considerably while actively benefiting the environment.

chicago-city-hall-rooftop-garden-8 (Image: DWaterson, cc-sa-3.0)

Check out John Tolva’s Flickr set for more City Hall garden pics, as well as his photos of the former Bloomingdale Line – the proposed Bloomingdale Trail.

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