Bus Roots: Green Roofed Bus is a Garden That Goes

by , 10/05/10

sustainable design, green design, green transportation, bus planter, green roofed bus, bus roots, marco castro cosio, gardening

Fans of the WHO Farm Project and other crazy green bus projects will enjoy Bus Roots, a green roof system designed for buses by Marco Castro Cosio. Ethereally speaking, it grounds the urban, metallic inflexible atmosphere of modern transport with the essence of nature. Logically speaking: it’s a green roof for a bus.

sustainable design, green design, green transportation, bus planter, green roofed bus, bus roots, marco castro cosio, gardening

Showcasing a contained sprawl of mostly low-growing succulents, Bus Roots earned second runner-up in the DesignWala Grand Idea Competition. Cosio created the project as his thesis at NYU. The project posits: “If we grew a garden on the roof of every one of the 4,500 buses in the MTA bus fleet, we would have 35 acres of new rolling green space in the city.” The BioBus sports the current prototype on its roof, touring it around to festivals and fairs. It’s a traveling habitat, a way to reduce the urban heat island effect, and another excuse to grow succulents. Pretty. We like.

+ Bus Roots

+ Marco Castro Cosio

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  1. d. gifford January 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    By the way, we studied the feasibility of greenroofing buses in Washington D.C. about 10 years ago. Due to all sorts of issues related to the physics of moving vehicles, bus maintenance, plant establishment and more, we overwhelmingly determined the shelters were a better choice.

  2. D. Gifford January 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    This is ridiculously silly and I say that as someone who started one of the first greenroof companies in the country, D.C. Greenworks.

    The soilless aggregate might be lightweight, but all the fines in it will blow off as soon as you hit 25 mph. Plus you’d have to retire the bus until the plants established their roots, or they’d blow off too. Plus, there is no stormwater, heat island or other need to greenroof buses.

    If you want to make a difference, put the greenroofs on the BUS STOP SHELTERS! It’s cheaper and easier, it’s prettier and more visible (providing an opportunity for educational posters within the shelter, and there are far more of them, which means greenroofs could definitely help with stormwater management and reducing impermeable surfaces. It will also keep the bus stop shelters cooler too.

    I know you’re young and idealistic, but one of the main tenets of Permaculture is right technology, right place, you know?

  3. lazyreader December 19, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Photoshop or not?! Transit agencies are broke all over the country, and this is your big idea? Spending public money on improving the aesthetic appeal of a bus, it would be cheaper to paint them. And this is not open space or a substitute for a park. You honestly think children will come and play ball on the bus roof, or that endangered species would make a habitat out of a moving structure.

  4. macascos October 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    As I mentioned before this is a proposal and there IS a bus with working prototype. It is in the pictures shown above.
    The picture was used as part of my thesis, to illustrate the proposal. I never meant to infringe any body’s copyright.

  5. User October 8, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    The picture in this article is 100% FAKE. No NYC bus has ever run with this on the top. The picture is photoshopped. The original photo was taken by a friend of mine off a website.

    This is just terrible…

  6. bugmenot October 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    The picture in this article is 100% FAKE. No MTA NYC bus has ever run with this on the top. The picture is photoshopped. The original photo was taken by a friend of mine off a website. The photo below is the original without the copyright mark and, without the photohop.

  7. macascos October 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

    And I would be happy to collaborate with more people who might be interested in this project, I know it can still use a lot or work and improvement.

  8. macascos October 7, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Thanks all so much for your comments and interest. The wind, fuel and weight concerns were certainly brought up as concerns as I was preparing my thesis. I would be happy to answer any question to the best of my ability.

    The BioBus has been sporting a prototype green roof for the last 5 months. It is smaller than what I initially mocked up on my prototype, as you can see in the pictures. The plants are doing well so far, and the BioBus has not lowered its fuel efficiency. It has been a good educational tool and a way of showing what a green roof looks like in schools and public events.

    The plants, sedum, are the same plants grown in green roofs for high rise buildings where plants have to withstand harsh winds and extreme weather conditions.

    The green roof system is the lightest I could find,at around 10- 15 lbs per sq foot, it contains very little soil. Actually it is a xeroflora system, that uses felt as a moisture and growing medium.

    I would be happy to continue to the conversation and even happier to integrate more green spaces in the cities.

  9. Feketelaszlo October 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Come on, that amount of modification to the roof will add around +80-100 kilogramms in weight, plus the soil/potting is around 200 kilogramms with the plants, so that’s around +300 kilogramms, which is equal to around 5 passengers (okay, 3 american passengers), it’s a lightweight garden. However I agree that it won’t make too big difference in the CO2 balance of a bus, but I like the idea because of the flowers, they bring life to the boring, gray city life. Nature rules.

  10. a-pineapple October 6, 2010 at 2:01 am

    This is ridiculous. As ingoratsdorf said, the extra weight of the soil and plant material will cost more fuel for the bus to move around, negating any positive effect the plants have on reducing carbon.
    Next, the bus roof was most likely painted white, which already helped reduce the heat island effect.
    The weight on the roof will make the buses more top-heavy, causing them to be more unstable in a turn, in addition to being heavier and harder to stop. Not to mention the danger of all that soil flying off in a crash.

    Wouldn’t it cost the same to install this vegetation at the bus STOPS, and not the buses? Then you would still get the benefits of reducing heat island effect without wasting all that extra fuel. Also, you’d improve the looks of 4500 bus stops, where the passengers will actually see and enjoy the greenspace, instead of it riding out of sight above their heads.

  11. SciTeacher October 5, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    I got sent to this page by a friend of the guy who made it. I’m pretty sure it’s real.

    Whether it would be a reasonable thing to put on all buses is mostly beside the point. It makes people think. And if you can do it on a bus for-crying-out-loud then how hard could it be on many permanent structures? ie. Let’s get off our butts and start getting things done.

  12. kristiantheconqueror October 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    I think that there’s a serious problem with this article: namely that the city bus with the sprawling garden on top is a photoshop job (albeit a reasonably good one.) Having this photo posted first and formost without specifying it as a photoshop job is misleading, especially since the real test model is a sadly pathetic patch of sod on the back end of a bus, in a very sheltered area of the roof. The presentation of the article makes it seem like “holy shit, this might be ready for deployment,” while in reality this concept has barely gotten beyond the “glint in the milkman’s eye” stage of it’s growth i.e. there still needs to be intercourse and nine months of development minimum before we can call this a workable concept.

  13. ingoratsdorf October 5, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    And what fuel powers the bus to move the extra load on the roof?

  14. Eletruk October 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Wouldn\’t wind burn be an issue?

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