Mexico City roof gardens take root to combat smog - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Mexico City roof gardens take root to combat smog

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Roof gardens absorb heat building by building - boosting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Source: CNN) Roof gardens absorb heat building by building - boosting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Source: CNN)
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MEXICO CITY (CNN) - In one of the world's biggest and most polluted cities, rooftop gardens are springing up in an effort to battle the smog, part of an initiative driven by the city's government.

It aims to combat the pollution of nearly five million cars.

"We know green roofs are also beneficial to capture heavy metals, particles, which is an important part of air quality. And obviously there is a reduction in the maintenance costs of the buildings because you don't have to waterproof the green roofs every two to three years," said Tanya Miller, environment secretary of Mexico City.

Mexico City is home to 23 million people, a densely packed megacity.

Urban spaces stay hotter than nearby rural areas, a phenomenon known as the heat island effect.

Roof gardens absorb heat building by building, boosting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The initiative mainly targets schools and hospitals.

"The patients can come and enjoy this area not only because of the view but because of the green environment this rooftop has," said Dr. Rolf Meiners y Huebner, director of Obdulia Rodriguez Rodriquez Hospital [stet.] "You could say physically and emotionally it can contribute to the recuperation of our patients."

Last year, the government opened more than 6,000 square meters of roof gardens in and around the city. This year will see a steep rise in investment, with plans to have 100,000 square meters by the end of the project.

Flat roofs are a characteristic of Mexico City's skyline, a potential asset as the city tries to encourage private cultivation.

Tax incentives are in place, and the government has started classes teaching citizens how to grow vegetables in small gardens.

Growing a roof garden requires patience and dedication, which the government says is one challenge.

Another issue is: Can they really have a meaningful impact?

"Obviously green roofs are not the solution to all of our air quality problems, but it does help. And we have to add up all the strategies that we are doing," Miller said. "There is not one big solution for air quality in megacities."

With pollution linked to heart disease, the World Health Organization said it hopes other megacities will adopt a similar approach.

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