NYC’s largest green roof – a post office park.

Goodlifer: NYC's largest green roof — a post office park.

They’re popping up all over these days, and are a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of any given building. The new green roof atop the Morgan mail processing facility is so vast — at 2.5 acres the largest in NYC — that it deserves to be called a park. This is the U.S. Postal Service‘s first green roof, but with all the facilities they operate across the country it is hopefully not the last.

Built in 1933, the 2.2 million square foot Morgan facility is located on 9th Avenue and 30th Street in midtown Manhattan and became a historic landmark in 1986. The roof was originally constructed to serve as an additional mail processing location, and supports 200 pounds per square foot. This made is a perfect candidate for a green roof, since it is strong enough to support the weight of the soil, vegetation and other green roof components.

Walking paths and FSC certified wood benches make this 2.5 acre green space a bona fide park.

Walking paths and FSC-certified wood benches make this 2.5 acre green space a bona fide park.

A green roof is not only aesthetically pleasing, it also provides other significant benefits. First, it lasts up to 50 years, which is twice as long as a conventional roof. It helps reduce the amount of contaminants in storm water runoff flowing into municipal water systems. The reduction of polluted runoff is projected to be as much as 75% in the summer, and up to 35% during the winter. A green roof also helps save money and energy on heating and cooling since temperature is regulated naturally. The Postal Service’s goal is to reduce the Morgan facility’s energy use by 30%.

Seven stories above the city, the Morgan green roof offers a spectacular panoramic view of midtown Manhattan and the northern New Jersey shore. Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects designed the garden-like space with low-maintenance native plants such as Calamagrostis (a lush, maintenance-free grass), coral carpet, John Creech, Immergrunchen and Fudaglut sedums. The 14 orange-hued Ipe Brazilian wood benches are made from lumber certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Low-maintenance native plants and grasses ensure sustainability.

Low-maintenance native plants and grasses ensure sustainability.

“The Morgan green roof is the largest in New York and one of the largest in the country,” says Sam Pulcrano, the Postal Service’s vice president, Sustainability. “Not only does it provide employees with a beautiful, serene outdoor environment, the green roof will help us meet our goal to reduce energy usage 30 percent by 2015.”

The new green roof is part of the Postal Service’s commitment to create sustainable spaces and facilities wherever possible. Their greener facilities strategy also includes the use of environmentally conscious building components, renewable materials, energy-efficient lighting and HVAC, low volatile organic compound parts, low-water use fixtures, solar photovoltaic systems, a LEED-certified facility opening soon in Long Island, an expanded NYC-wide mixed paper and cardboard recycling program (materials recycled have tripled compared to the previous year), and a growing fleet of hybrid electric delivery vehicles.

Components of a green roof. To be suitable, buildings need to be able to withstand a large weight load.

Components of a green roof. To be suitable, buildings need to be able to withstand a large weight load.

Now, if they could only stop those darn catalogs from flooding our post boxes. Well, you can. Visit catalogchoice.com to stop those unwanted glossies from keeping on coming. To also stop credit card offers and other unwanted junk, sign up to opt out at DMAchoice.org (registration required).

View footage of the Morgan green roof here.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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