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Green Roofs and Living Walls

Increasingly accepted as a tool for contributing to the sustainability of cities throughout the world, living walls and green roofs also contribute to public green spaces. This guide provides links to materials for researching the topic.


Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. Detail of living roof, California National Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California. 2009. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Green roofs have become increasingly accepted as a tool for contributing to the sustainability of cities throughout the world. Green roofs can help to counteract the effect of impervious surfaces in urban areas, where sidewalks, roads, rooftops, parking lots, and runways have historically been constructed using materials such as asphalt, concrete and stone, which repel water and prevent precipitation from seeping into soil. Because approximately 40 percent of the impervious surface area in our cities is located on rooftops, vegetated rooftops can have an important beneficial impact on the urban environment by reducing and controlling storm water runoff. Green roofs and living walls can act as filters for both air and water. They can also play an important role in reducing energy consumption for both heating and cooling, and in reducing the effects of urban heat islands. In addition, green roofs and living walls can contribute public green spaces to cities.

About the Science Section

Part of the Science & Business Reading Room at the Library of Congress, the Science Section is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of science, medicine and engineering. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of science and engineering  assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of science, medicine, and engineering materials.