Green Spaces

Social Work Green Roof Turns 3

Social Work Green Roof Turns ThreeCovered in chives, several varieties of sedum, and delosperma ("Hardy Iceplant"), the School of Social Work's green roof is 3 years old and thriving. A resident of the school's fourth floor, the garden is best seen from the adjacent outdoor patio. 

Planted in the spring of 2008, in an effort to reduce the school's environmental impact and cement its commitment to environmental action, the green roof offers many benefits to the School of Social Work building and its urban landscape.

For example, green roofs cool and humidify the surrounding air, provide a natural habitat for animals and plants, create biodiversity, reduce dust and smog levels, and absorb contaminants from rainfall and the air. 

Additionally, green roofs reduce stormwater runoff, typically, by 50 to 90 percent. Not only do they greatly reduce the volume of stormwater runoff, but they also minimize the impact of stormwater on existing sewer systems. 

As a result of the green roof's installation, the School of Social Work can boast reduced cooling costs and dampened noise pollution. Also of note, green roofs increase the life expectancy of a roof by protecting building materials from climatic extremes. 

Though installing a green roof requires significant upfront funding, "The benefits pay off," says Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, dean of the School of Social Work. "We felt that taking this step would not only beautify our building, but would clearly indicate our school's commitment to sustainability at the University of Maryland."

To learn more about funding for green roofs, check out the incentive programs offered by the federal government. 

(Data courtesy of

Clare Banks

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