Chicago Green Roofs and Energy Consumption


Author Noah P. Boggess is a Master of Art's student in Sustainable Urban Development at DePaul University, in Chicago, Illinois. In June, he will be joining CNU as a Transportation Summitt Project Assistant.  For inquiries on his research, contact Noah P. Boggess at

While green roofs are touted as management practices for coping with climate change, is there any direct relationship between green roofs in the city of Chicago and per capita energy usage? This map highlights the higher per capita energy consuming community areas in darker shade, and the lower energy areas in lighter shade. The energy usage is overlaid with green roofs shown as solid black circles, in which the size of circles represents vegetated square feet of green roofs.

The map reveals high energy usage in central neighborhoods. The Near North has the most green roofs of any neighborhood in the city while boasting the highest per capita energy usage from 2010. The map inset shows green roofs in the Loop. It was found that, at this time, there is no strong connection between green roofs and energy usage in Chicago, likely because there are not enough green roofs to have a large impact.

Though energy patterns remain relatively unaffected by the presence of green roofs, this map shows that green roof spaces are being generated where they are currently needed most; those areas of highest energy consumption.  Furthermore while the impact of green roof spaces may not be easily seen in total energy reduction, their presence in urban areas is still important.  Particularly in wetter springs seasons such as this one green roofs take a good deal of pressure off the city’s sewers system, which combines sewage and storm water to further burden the existing infrastructure.  Green roofs also offer opportunities for rooftop gardens and patios, introducing public spaces in neighborhoods that may have a current lack.  Hopefully in time Chicago will have enough green roofs to show a total energy reduction to supplement these “less-measurable” benefits.

 Energy Consumption


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