Go Green: Civic Center Garage Green Roof

Monroe County has transformed Rochester's Civic Center Parking Garage roof into an eco-friendly plaza.

Landscaper Van Putte Gardens recently won the New York State Environmental beautification Award for its work on the Green Roof project.  It's a local project that's won numerous awards, including the Genesee Valley Branch of American Public Works Association (APWA) Structural Project of the Year Award, NYS Chapter of the APWA Structural Project of the Year Award and the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York Platinum Award for Engineering Excellence.

The Green Roof project was started in 2010.  After two years of renovations, Monroe County unveiled its new Civic Center Garage Green Roof last summer.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped transform the three acre parcel.  The County secured a $4.7 grant for green improvements.  Now, this once bleak space is a source of pride.  "It's been characterized as a pocket-park, again the beautification, the green, the softening of the space around us has really made it a much more inviting space," said Jason Kennedy, Monroe County's Chief of Engineering & Facilities Management.

When it was first constructed in 1958, the garage roof was covered with granite paver stone.  Now, two-thirds of the area is green with grass, seedum, trees and shrubs.  The infrastructure includes a rain water harvesting system that stores about 20,000 gallons of water.  "During arid climate, which we have not had of late, we utilize that system to actually water the lawn, if you will," said Kennedy.

In addition, about 30 percent of rain water runoff is absorbed, diverting it away from the County and City sewer systems.  The Green Roof also reduces what is called urban heat, by absorbing light and covering up what would otherwise be heat-emitting rooftop.

The plaza also has LED lights, reducing wattage consumption by 50 percent from the former space.  It's popular with visitors and those who manage the adjacent Sheriff's Office and courthouse.  "We really tried to strike a balance," said Kennedy.  "The designers and the County team, I think, did a really good job of striking the balance between the green goal and the actual functionality of the plaza itself."

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