Kimball Ave.



Project: Kimball Ave. Green Roof – 700 square foot green roof
Location: Chicago, IL
Award Winner: Omni Ecosystems (Green Roof System Manufacturer)

Green Roof Contractor: Rooftop Green Works
Architect & Developer: Ranquist Development
Irrigation System Manufacturer: Hunter

"We are creating the places for remarkable experiences and daily interactions with nature - integrated into our busy urban lives. The residence overlooking the Kimball Avenue garage green roof has stunning views of a beautiful and diverse wildflower and food meadow. The family's two sons regularly harvest food and flowers from the meadow. Every morning, the green roof, like a natural meadow, has a different aesthetic, smell and energy. The improved views and natural plantings mitigate the impact of the black rooftop and inspire the family members' lives." - Molly Meyer, owner, Omni Ecosystems

Bringing Green to Logan Square

The Kimball Avenue residence, located in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, features an 8-inch-deep built-in-place green roof system. The green roof was built layer by layer from root barrier to capillary fabrics, followed by drainage elements and automatic irrigation, capped with ultra-lightweight growing media, and planted with perennial starts and seeded with meadow plants. At a mere 36 pounds per square foot for its maximum saturated weight, this green roof yields a remarkable flowering meadow as well as food crops.

The second-floor living room and kitchen and third-floor bedrooms of this home overlook the beautiful green roof over the garage. The green roof covers a black-top roof membrane, and it cools the roof surface and reduces heating needs in the non-air conditioned two-car garage.

The green roof retains an average of 22 inches of rainfall annually. The green roof is managed through monthly maintenance visits from April to October each year. Maintenance visits include an inspection of the green roof areas and the following tasks: hand weeding, re-seeding, inspecting scuppers, removing debris and checking irrigation system. During the first and last visits of the year, the irrigation system is turned on and off, respectively. In the spring, the growing media is tested via laboratory analysis and appropriate amendments are added based on the nutrient levels.


Plantings include black-eyed susan, coreopsis, asters, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce and kale, among many others seen throughout the growing season. On most spring through fall days, family members open the windows over the green roof meadow, allowing into the home fresh, sweet air from the rich and natural scents of the sweet alyssum and other wildflower meadow plantings. Plants as tall at 4' above the growing media surface create many layers in the plant canopy to further help dissipate noise transmission.

With this new addition to this beautiful building, the green roof brings local fauna that have long since been pushed out of downtown Chicago. The green roof is home to many insects, including bees and butterflies, and many birds.

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About Green Roofs

by Steven Peck
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