by Lisa Mucciacito
Manhattan has long been a jungle, but 400 years ago it wasn’t concrete. It’s time we made our urban canyons a little greener in order to make our water a little clearer.
When it rains the water mixes with the waste and with so many hard surfaces, the run-off has nowhere else to go but into the surrounding waterways. This is why it is so important to go retro—get back to our greener roots. An urban green infrastructure, beyond being lovely and leafy, provides buffer zones between the city and nearby waterways. These buffer zones help to naturally filter out impurities and absorb water before it reaches the surrounding river, lake, ocean, watershed or storm drain. Bioswales and tree pits have been taking root around the city and are designed to prolong the amount of time that water flows through to maximize the amount of pollution and silt that gets trapped.
It’s no secret that Manhattan has some amazing parks but just imagine how many mini ecosystems we could add by doing a little landscaping on some of the 60,000 roofs in the city. Green roofs provide many benefits including moderating building temperatures to save on cooling and heating costs, reducing the amount of and filtering storm water run-off so that quality is improved before it enters a waterway, provides wildlife habitats, a place to grow food and they reduce the heat island effect. If the idea of being green (roofed) doesn’t seem so easy, start small: even Grover can go green.