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Manchester's First Green Roof Unveiled Thanks to Cooperative Extension

November 21, 2007

Perennial plants in the green roof system—sedums and chives—can withstand extreme temperatures and precipitation, and require little maintenance.

The green roof planted on Manchester City Hall's roof was officially recognized last Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by city officials, contributors and partnering organizations.

UNH Cooperative Extension conceived the idea for the demonstration project and began recruiting partners from the Manchester community in 2002. The essential components, an appropriate site, city approval, and funding finally came together last May, helping Extension move forward and get the roof in place.

Most of the rain that hits a conventional city building's roof flows off over pavement and into storm drains, carrying pollutants such as gasoline, oil, antifreeze, sand and trash. The GreenGrid roof will absorb up to 95 percent of an average rainfall. By slowly percolating through the plants and soil of the green roof, runoff occurs several hours after peak flows, giving sewer systems time to handle other runoff.

Cooperative Extension dean and director John Pike, who participated in the event, noted Extension’s longtime involvement with the people of Manchester. In the past 12 years alone, Extension staff has become increasingly active in the urban heart of New Hampshire.

Much of Extension’s work has centered around organizing grassroots coalitions that brought together local residents, Extension staff and volunteers, various city departments, nonprofit organizations, and the business community to improve the beauty, livability, safety, natural resources and social integration of Manchester's low-income neighborhoods. The new green roof is but one such example of these collaborative efforts.

Phil Bryce, state forester, N.H. Division of Forests and Lands, talked about the important role of natural resources and our urban forests and how green roofs contribute to both.

UNH Cooperative Extension's community forestry educator, Mary Tebo, the driving force behind this effort, noted there will be another green roof growing in Manchester next summer.

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