Green Roofs used in education provide numerous benefits. A sustainable future starts with giving our children the tools they will need to solve complex environmental challenges. Learning about green roof ecology gives students a better understanding of how ecosystems function in the cities in which they live. Green roofs also provide learning opportunities in all subject areas and the documented health and emotional benefits of connecting with nature. While educators and parents' interest in installing them on school rooftops continue to grow, persistent funding and construction challenges remain.

Green Roof Educational Initiatives in nyC


The Green Roof Environmental Literacy Laboratory, the largest public school green roof in NYC. This laboratory, completed in 2012, provides students with hands-on opportunities to learn about ecology, urban farming, chemistry, and biology.

The High Line 

Educational programs at the High Line take an interdisciplinary and place-based approach, partnering with schools to offer hands-on explorations both during the school day and after-school, with a mix of in-classroom workshops and park visits. These programs serve nearly 10,000 students annually, including through afterschool programs and school partnerships.


Kingsland Wildflowers at Broadway Stages

Kingsland Wildflowers at Broadway Stages Green Roof & Community Engagement Center is a green oasis located in an industrial area along Newtown Creek in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Since the first section of the green roof was installed in 2016, it has become a crucial component of the community’s overall environmental restoration efforts and a vibrant community and educational space.


Green Bronx Machine

The Green Bronx Machine is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and academic performance of Bronx students through food education and urban farming.


Project TRUE 

Located at the Bronx Zoo, Project TRUE is a youth development program where students conduct field research in NYC with a team of college students and scientists from Fordham University and the Wildlife Conservation Society.


City Growers

City Growers is a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging farm-based learning in NYC children through field trips, afterschool programs, and other initiatives.


Grow NYC

Grow NYC promotes environmental programming for New Yorkers of all ages through programs like Greenmarkets, composting, and community gardens. Its education division offers field trips to Greenmarkets and the teaching garden on Governors Island, as well as long-term curriculum programs.

Brooklyn Grange

Brooklyn Grange offers a season-long Beekeeping Education Program that takes students through a full year of beginning beekeeping, from building hives and installing brand- new packages of bees to harvesting honey and preparing for winter. Youth programming at the farm is available through City Growers.


Education Common Questions

What is the process for installing a green roof on my school building?

Retrofitting a green roof on a school building requires time and monetary resources, but the long-term benefits outweigh the initial setup costs. Make sure a green roof is a priority for your overall school community, and assemble a team of support, including school administration, custodial engineers, and the PTA. Parents may be a potential volunteer resource to initiate the project. It is also advised to connect with a professional design-build firm to guide your school through the design process, assist with procuring funding and permits, and safely install and maintain the green roof.
Connect with your school’s New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) point person via the custodial engineer or school administration to discuss the project’s viability and funding.

How is a green roof integrated in the school curriculum?

Integrating the roof into existing studies is the best practice. It can be connected to literacy, social studies, and math in various ways. Art students can sketch the skyline or plant, STEM teachers can conduct year-round experiments and biodiversity observations.

Does a green roof require maintenance?

Yes, maintenance, which may include watering, weeding and harvesting, is critical to a roof’s long-term success. The first years after installation are considered an establishment period depending on maintenance needs.

Who takes care of the green roof?

School custodial staff are not contractually required to take care of a green roof and parent volunteers may not have the skills or time. Most design-build firm contracts include a maintenance schedule and it is required if using a city grant.

How much does it cost to maintain a green roof?

The average maintenance cost for an extensive green roof ranges from $.75 to $2/sqft. An intensive green roof’s maintenance ranges from $1.25 to $2/sqft, and the cost for a roof with landscape design is higher. Annual maintenance of green roofs costs 21 cents to 31 cents more per square foot a year than the maintenance of a black roof. The overall maintenance costs decrease after the first two years. Schools may consider quotes from various green roof design-build firms, which will work to develop a maintenance plan to fit the school's budget. The initial design of the green roof should take into consideration long-term maintenance.


Green Roof Curriculum


Green Roofs Teachers Guide: Pre- Kindergarten Through Grade 5

Lesson recommendations range from a pre-kindergarten green roof sensory tour to second-grade wildlife-corridor mapping to fifth-grade green roof model-making. It includes activities for both green roofs and classrooms.


Architecture--it's Elementary!

Through a multidisciplinary architectural curriculum and supported by local architects, children will gain an appreciation of their built environment and the buildings, towns, and cities that make it up.


Build a Green Roof

Students learn about landscape architect’s projects and then create their green roofs using a shoebox.


Using 3D Printing and Modeling to Enhance a Green Roof Lesson

Students use model buildings to compare rain runoff between a control building without a green roof and an experimental roof that has soil seeded with grass seed.

Grades 1-5


Grades 5-8


The Roof Is Growing!​

A classroom program developed by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) to engage and educate middle school students about green roofs and their environmental benefits. ​​

Rooftop Gardens

Students explore whether rooftop gardens are a viable option for combating the urban heat island effect. Can rooftop gardens reduce the temperature inside and outside of homes?


A Students Guide to Green Roof Invertebrates 

This guide is meant for student analysis of green roof samples. It encompasses the most

common arthropod orders present on green roofs in New York City but do not include all

possible taxa; and is a dichotomous key split into two sections: winged arthropods and wingless



The Basics of Ecology

The Basics of Green Roofs

Intensive and Extensive Green Roofs

Created by New School students, these fun and interactive guides will introduce ecology concepts and green roofs to 5th and 6th graders.

Grades 9+


Green Roof Design

Groups learn about the concept of green roofs by designing a 5,000-square-foot green roof for a fictional row house in Brooklyn. The design and presentation components are in an RFP format, providing an authentic, real-world assignment.