Day #029: Green in unexpected places

More than any other color in cities, green has the power to transform the lives of everything from bees to urbanites.

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Install greenery on roofs and the walls of buildings.
  • Difficulty: 1 — Richmond’s lack of green roofs and vertical green spaces is an inexplicable mystery.

Richmond is a great town actively taking steps toward turning into a model of modern planning. Protected bikes lanes are in the works, Uber and Lyft were recently approved, and Richmond is starting to embrace open access data. Greenery, however, is still surprisingly absent from the fabric of RVA.

Today’s suggestion is pretty simple: put greenery everywhere.


Greenery on the roofs and walls has so many benefits it’s amazing that this hasn’t happened any sooner. Vertical greenery systems on buildings not only decrease the costs of climate control inside the building, but they mitigate the heat-island effect in cities and improve air quality. Greenery improves urban ecosystems. It provides food and habitats for birds while also helping bees–a rapidly declining and incredibly important species.

Green is the shade that breaks the monotony of concrete and brick while improving mental health. Richmonders can undoubtedly attest to the incredible sensation of strolling around Belle Island or even walking through Monroe Park.

It increases property values which boosts property taxes and revenue for the city. In fact, one of the only downsides of near excessive greenery is gentrification.

Finally, with millions upon millions of people set to move to cities in the coming decades, cities will continue to take over agricultural land at an unprecedented rate. With Detroit leading the charge, cities will need start generating some food on their own in the form of urban farming and hydroponics. During WWII, Victory Gardens provided 42% of domestic food supplies in America. Hopefully, this is the future of Richmond.

In addition to the incredible murals which speckle the facades of Richmond’s buildings, RVA should actively seek to add vertical green spaces and roof gardens through a program similar to the Richmond Mural Project.

Richmond is taking steps large and small to make this a better city. Adding greenery is an affordable addition whose benefits far outweigh the costs. It’s a mystery why this hasn’t happened sooner, but reaping the rewards would be as simple as planting the seeds.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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