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Green Roofs for Schools

This photo is just one example of the many green rooftops in Iowa on top of public buildings. Green roofs are planted with a vegetative layer, growing medium, and a waterproofing membrane. They are utilized to reduce heat island effect, air temperatures and stormwater runoff as well as to provide a more aesthetic environment and habitat for small local wildlife. 

Schindler Education Building, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • How do green roofs reduce human impacts on natural systems? 
  • What effect do green roofs have on stormwater runoff, heat island effect and air pollution?  
  • What are the tradeoffs and constraints using green roofs versus more traditional roofing methods?

Classroom Suggestions

  • Evaluate repairing a school roof with traditional materials versus a rooftop garden using a cost/tradeoff graphic organizer. 
  • Develop 3D models of a building with a traditional roof and a green roof and investigate how each handles increased temperatures and stormwater runoff. 
  • Make claims, and provide evidence and reasoning about what types of plants should be used on a particular building in their community. 
  • Create a PSA about the use of green roofs in their community. 

Related Resources

Iowa Core Alignment

Earth and Space Science
High School (9-12)
Disciplinary Core Idea
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity

Credit Info

Submitted by Michelle Seddon


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