The earth is in trouble. Global warming is changing our climate and the race is on to find ways to circumvent disastrous ecological consequences. Luckily, all around the world solar and green roof replacements are taking over as a way to reduce energy usage and increase the health of the environment. Be it capturing the rays of the sun to power buildings through solar energy or harnessing the aesthetic power of plants to also manage storm water runoff and temperature regulation, cities and campuses are working together to build a better tomorrow today.
Solar energy has been around for a while and is still gaining in popularity as a form of clean energy as its efficiency increases with each technological advancement. Basically, it captures energy from the sun and converts it into electricity that can then be harnessed by our homes and cities. This energy is purported as paying for itself many times over the course of its 25 year or more lifespan. It also adds a staggering amount of retail value to the home in relation to cost – far more than an updated kitchen. Arizona Public Service Company is offering to put free solar panel roofing on 3,000 homes to meet their alternative energy goals. This would provide the state with 20 megawatts, with one megawatt able to power 250 homes at once.
Green roofs, on the other hand, are just that. Plants are planted on the roofs of buildings. These not only insulate and thereby reduce building energy consumption, they regulate temperature, mitigating the urban heat island effect during the summer and keeping things warmer in the winter. The City of Chicago, notorious for its extreme temperatures, reported daytime roof temperature differences in August between those with plants and those without to be a staggering 28 degrees Celsius. Such places as the University of Malta and University of Iowa are installing such roofs in order to study their effects on the climate and the universities’ aesthetics. Plants are known to make people happy, reducing the stress of over-populated areas. Roofs aren’t the only thing going green, however, and Sydney, Australia is boasting not only rooftop beehives where fresh honey is harvested for local restaurant patrons but also vertical greenery.
Climate change affects the entire world and everyone is doing their best to avert it. By harvesting clean energy from the sun, cities are slowly transitioning to environmentally safe practices by offering residents free upgrades. Meanwhile, cities across the globe are building easy to maintain gardens on its buildings’ rooftops to not only help with insulation and energy conservation but also provide individuals with a naturally stress reducing escape from bustling streets. Both options are easy and cost-effective means toward saving money and saving the environment. From Chicago to Sydney, the people of this world we inhabit are pulling together to fix the mistakes of rampant expansion and selfish greed.