The Urbane Ecologist

Chicago’s Green Roofs


I’m in Chicago visiting family right now and I’m having the time of my life! Having spent four years in Houston, which is extremely car-oriented and lacking in any widespread awareness of the use of public spaces for parks and the like, my few days in this city have been filled with excitement and enjoyment.

Chicago is famous for many things, including its green roofs. Chicago’s City Hall features the most impressive green roof in the city, at 23,000 feet. Because it is used to research the effects of green roofs, it is not open to the public and I was sadly unable to visit it. So far, it has been established that this green roof saves about $3,600 a year in heating and cooling for the building.


A view of Downtown from the Sears (now Willis) Tower, with a green roof in the bottom left. I think this is the green roof at 900 Michigan Avenue, but correct me if I’m wrong! (I took this picture. It’s not fabulous, but if you insist on using it, please ask 🙂  )

PBS Newshour has a great slideshow featuring Chicago’s green roofs. For those who haven’t been to Chicago, it is worth noting that all the green roofs featured are in Downtown!

The City of Chicago’s Housing and Economic Development page provides a map showing the location of green roofs in the city, and provides access to related data about them. According to their latest study, there are 359 vegetated roofs within the City of Chicago, which cover 5,469,463 square feet. This website is a helpful guide to learning about and getting started with your own green roof if you live in Chicago.

I’ve been here for three days and I’ll be here for only one more, and I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to visit a green roof. The ChooseChicago website has a few pages on green roofs, but the information is not very specific.

I’ve fallen in love with Chicago and I hope I visit it soon–the sooner the better! Next time I aim to find my way to a green roof!


5 thoughts on “Chicago’s Green Roofs

  1. Chicago is a great city to introduce yourself to green roofs. As a rooftop gardener of 7 years, I feel so blessed every single time I am able to visit the windy city and make my way to a few rooftops. These links will be very helpful for my next visit. Thanks and great post!

  2. Hi there, I enjoyed reading your posts, and wondered if I could use your image of Chicago roof top gardens for a presentation I’ll be making at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Minneapolis next week. Are you perhaps attending? Thanks so much!

    • Hi, thanks for contacting me! Yes, please feel free to use my image and cite it the way you would anything else. I won’t be at the conference, unfortunately, but I’m glad to know a small bit of me will be there virtually!

  3. You may either store an area within your house to deal with and / or purchase a wire crate (for those of you).

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