The California Academy of Sciences, located in Golden Gate Park in San Fransisco, is home to many fantastic exhibits, including an albino alligator, an incredible aquarium, an amazing evolution of life planetarium show, and interactive exhibits like this one (below) where you can see the size of the carbon footprint for different food items.And all of these amazing exhibits are housed under a massive 1-hectare Green Roof!
The Green roof is a little different that your typical extensive green roof becasue it is not dominated by plants from the Sedum genus, drought tolerant succulent plants, and because there are 7 “hills”, which help house the planetarium, aquarium and rain forest aviary.
Scientists, at the Academy, were interested in using Native plants for this green roof to reproduce the vegetation that was displaced by the footprint of the building. To do this, they used the scientific method to test 30 different plant species. For two years, the scientists monitored the 30 different native plants in ground level green roof mock-ups. Treatments included mimicking the slopes of the proposed hills seen behind me (above). From the 30 species tested 9 species were found to perform well by staying green for the majority of the year. You can see them below:
The green roof is accessible to all Cal Academy patrons to view from an observational deck. While I was there I asked a few people what they thought about the green roof.”I like the hills” said one patron, “It looks a bit like a fallow field” said another.
When I asked a few people if they would want a green roof on their home or apartment the overwhelming response was, yes, with one patron exclaiming “Hell Yeah, saving energy would be awesome, and it would be even cooler if I could plant plants that attracted butterflies and birds”. As it turns out, Fordham University and the Wildlife Conservation Society are teaming up to look at exactly that.