What looks like the windswept shorelines of Washington State is actually the Washington Mutual Green Roof, located on top of a commercial high-rise in downtown Seattle. Green roofs provide important environmental benefits by mimicking the natural landscape on top of a roof.
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Perched 17 stories above the street, the plants and soil on Washington Mutual Green Roof provide the same benefits as if they were on the ground. The many paved and reflective surfaces in the city can raise air temperature in the summer by as much as five degrees (known as the urban heat island effect), whereas the green space of the roof actually helps cool the environment.
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Green roofs mitigate the loss of green space by turning unused rooftop space into a functioning landscape and ecosystem. The original site plan for the Washington Mutual Green Roof shows the large green area plus a recreational deck for employees.
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Looking down on the completed roof shows the finished decking and landscape. The large area covered in plants and soil absorbs thousands of gallons of rainwater, reducing water pollution by trapping and filtering the water as well as saving city resources and infrastructure costs by keeping water runoff out of the sewer system.
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Green roofs typically use native and drought resistant plants, which, once established, require little or no water and maintenance. In addition to cooling the air and capturing rainwater, the plants on Washington Mutual also create new habitats for insects and birds.
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Habitats formed by green roofs go beyond local wildlife. The Washington Mutual Green Roof incorporates an outdoor deck and seating area for employees and visitors to enjoy.
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During lunch, the green roof becomes a central gathering place. What was once an unused space is now an amenity.
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The green roof acts as an oasis in the dense urban environment. As much as the roof serves as a social gathering space – especially during lunch, the natural landscape provides a spectacular view throughout the day.
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