Javitz Rolls Out the Green Carpet (34th – 40th Streets between 11th and 12th Avenues in Manhattan)

Javitz Center is installing the mother of all green roofs!

Looking east from the green roof of the Javitz Center

When complete (probably next year in 2013), it’s going to be 8 glorious acres, the second largest green roof in the entire country and, for sure, the largest green roof in Manhattan.  Sorry US Postal Service Morgan Mail Processing Center, the former green roof Mama Bear – at 2.5 acres, you are now the Baby Bear; and the Ford Motor Factory green roof in Deerborn, Michigan holds fast as the Papa Bear of USA green roofs coming in at 10.4 awesome acres.

A roll of “living carpet” of pre-grown sedum plants, commonly used for greening rooftops

Xero Flor, the same green roof installer at the Ford plant, assigned Kat Harrold, a trained landscape architect and GRP (Green Roof Professional) to manage this complex project, a key part of the greening up renovation of Javitz Center.  It is clear that Kat, a petite woman with long brown hair who carries her own construction hard hat in her backpack, is passionate about green roofs.  When still in university, she decided to devote her career to the environmentally urgent goal of greening of our cities’ rooftops.

Mechanicals on the 13-acre Javitz rooftop leave roof for 8 acres of green roof

You might be wondering, how do Kat and her crew go about greening 8 acres of rooftop in midtown Manhattan?  In its simplest form, it’s kind of like installing wall-to-wall carpeting on the roof but with small living plants rather than man-made woven carpet fibers.

She explained that after carefully waterproofing the roof membrane and putting in paving stone walkways so there is access to the HVAC and other mechanical stuff that is kept on rooftops, they put down irrigation, some lightweight soil, and a layer or two of materials to maximize drainage and rainwater retention.  Then the fun begins:  Just like carpeting the living room of your suburban tract house, they roll out the pre-grown plants.

Irrigation lines are installed below the sedum carpet

Voila! Instant green roof with all of its fabulous environmental and economic benefits:

Instant rain water runoff reduction

• Instant improved roof insulation for lower air conditioning and heating bills

• Instant longer lasting roofs

• Instant reduced heat island effect

• Instant increased biodiversity

Lightweight, specially manufactured soil keeps the weight of the green roof down

As an advocate of public access green roofs, it’s frustrating that this expansive green roof with breathtaking views will only be accessible by Javitz maintenance folks – and the occasional determined rooftop blog writer.  I’ll search for public access viewing spots from which you can see the roof – dragon’s blood red in winter, blossoming pink, white and yellow in spring, and green in summer and fall – and report back to you.  Meanwhile, as you environmentally progressive baby caniforms enjoy your morning porridge, with a generous dollop of locally harvested rooftop honey of course, you can check out the progress of this Mama Bear of green roofs on Google Earth.

Looking north from the Javitz rooftop

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