We all know that green rooftops can be beautiful, bountiful and eco-friendly, but they also have the power to create jobs and improve communities. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities has announced a project that will call on top designers to do just that by re-imagining Harlem neighborhoods with planted roofs and other green infrastructure. Phase I of the initiative, called the Harlem Green Infrastructure Design Charrette, will take place at the CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference on October 5-8, 2015 in Brooklyn.

Philadelphia Green Roof Before and AfterA before and after concept rendering for City of Philadelphia green infrastructure neighborhood retrofit. Credit: City of Philadelphia.

At the event, top designers will face the challenges of exploring possibilities to add green infrastructure in Harlem. “Green roofs and walls have a vast, but unrealized potential to address many of the fundamental challenges facing New York City and we are delighted to be working with community leaders in Harlem to explore this potential,” said Steven W. Peck, GRP, Honorary ASLA, Founder and President of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

Related: Harlem’s tallest tower gets a green light

After a year in development, the project launch represents the culmination of a great deal of effort coordinated by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities with local partners and consultants. Three main components of the plan have already been completed. First, the team identified a key neighborhood up to 10 blocks in size in need of green infrastructure and performed a cost-benefit analysis on preliminary designs. The final piece of the puzzle is an evaluation of more than 100 buildings, mostly affordable housing and public spaces earmarked for a green makeover through the creation of a “Harlem GEM” – or Green Excellence Matrix, which puts a priority on green energy renovations.

This green infrastructure initiative is about much more than rooftop gardens. Other green technology improvements under consideration will include rain gardens, solar power, solar water heating, and energy efficiency.

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Images via Green Roofs for Healthy Cities/Facebook