CREW Chicago members gather to hear about the city’s green roof movement

Contributed by Colleen Marnell, Kimley-Horn and Associates

On Wednesday, June 22, CREW CHICAGO hosted an evening program at The Roof Crop in Chicago West Loop/Kinzie Industrial Corridor.  The sold out event afforded attendees the chance to learn more about the green roof movement in Chicago.  Prior to the presentation, members and non-members networked while sipping on beverages and enjoying appetizers from Publican Quality Meats.

Event chairs Linda Kanoski and Lisa Wells welcomed the capacity crowd of 50 and introduced Molly Meyer, Founder and CEO of Omni Ecosystems, CEO and Founder of Rooftop Green Works, and Co-Founder and Co-Manager of The Roof Crop.

Molly explained how her companies developed patented systems that allow building owners to install a green roof to not only meet City of Chicago requirements but to also create an additional source of income for the building owner.

Omni Ecosystems creases and designs the rooftop systems while Rooftop Green Works installs the systems.  Rooftop Green Works has installed green roofs throughout the Midwest, most notably the AMA Plaza, the Thompson Hotel, and the Method Factory.

After installation, The Roof Crop leases the green roofs from the building owners to farm the green roofs and sell the produce to local customers, such as restaurants.  This has improved the payback period for green roofs, created an additional revenue stream for the building owners, and provides a “maintenance-positive” green roof.

Crops can be grown in soil as shallow as 3″, depending on what kind of load the building can accommodate. Molly explained existing buildings can be more difficult and cost intensive to retrofit but when incorporated in the building’s original design, the additional structural elements needed are nominal in cost.

After the presentation, small groups were taken to the roof to see an Omni system and ask additional questions of Molly.  Unfortunately, weather prevented every group from getting the chance to experience the rooftop but Molly and her team were generous with their time, answering the many questions from their captivated audience.