Philadelphia Free Library Green Roof


The Parkway Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia became the first city-owned building to feature a green roof with the project’s completion in September 2008. The project, which features more than 5,400 plants, comprises 5,000 square feet on the south side of the building. In addition to providing the stormwater benefit of reducing the volume of runoff contributed to the city’s sewer system from the site, the green roof offers environmental and energy-saving benefits. These include better air quality and keeping buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

The green roof is underlain by several layers of material designed specifically for insulation, drainage, and waterproofing installed below the layer of soil media. The new demonstration space features a pathway that will allow visitors to experience the green roof up close. The site features informational signage about the plants used, the site’s design and materials, and benefits of green roofs.

In addition to this effort, the Library is also incorporating additional sustainability and green building practices into its new 180,000 square-foot addition as part of its efforts to secure a silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation for the new building.

Click here to watch a video of the green roof installation.


County: Philadelphia
Watershed: Schuylkill River


City of Philadelphia Department of Public Property (Capital Projects)
Galbally Landscaping
Kelly/Maiello Architects and Planners
Green Roof Services, LLC
Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects
Moshe Safdie and Associates
US Roofing


Total cost is unavailable.

Funding Partners
PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Private donors


Jim Pecora
Renovation/Expansion Project Manager
Philadelphia Free Library
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Diagram of Green Roof Layers

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