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Sneak peek: Rochester City Hall's new green roof

Zack Seward
The swaths of succulents are designed to absorb rainwater, minimizing the flow of pollutants into the region's waterways.

The city of Rochester just completed work on its first ever "green roof."

The roof of City Hall's Building B is now home to 8,700 square feet of succulent plants.

"It's basically for storm water management," says Anne Spaulding, the city's sustainability manager, during a rooftop tour. "All of the rainwater - instead of running into the storm system - is consumed by the plants on the roof."

Spaulding says the thick carpet of sedum can reduce storm water runoff by up to 90 percent, depending on the amount of rainfall.

The goal is to reduce the amount of pollutants that flow into the region's streams, rivers and lakes.

"This roof up here isn't really for the public," Spaulding says, "it's more for the storm water and energy benefits."

The $246,000 project was almost entirely funded by a state grant from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) awarded in 2010.

The green roof was supposed to be installed last fall, but was delayed by "contracting issues," according to Spaulding.

"So we decided to wait until the spring to make sure the weather was right for the plants to become established," Spaulding says.

Now Rochester joins cities like Chicago with green roofed city halls.

The new carpet of sedum is not the only green infrastructure project the grant will go toward.

Spaulding says an adjacent parking lot will be paved with permeable pavement by year's end. The city is also deciding where to build a second, smaller green roof.

Spaulding says it's currently between the Highland branch of the public library and the Edgerton Rec Center.

WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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