It’s Summer in the Sky

By Renee Frith

Bernheim’s mission of connecting people with nature extends far beyond our forest boundaries, and one of the ways we are working beyond our borders is maintaining two green roof spaces in downtown Louisville. One at the American Life Building (pictured here earlier this week) and four at the Novak Center for Children’s Health.

Cityscapes and urban sprawls need the oxygen and the shade from a tree as much as (if not more than) forested areas. Potted plants and trees on the sidewalk aren’t the only ways to fill this need. Green roofs have become a popular way to bring nature into the city.

Green roofs have many benefits – mitigating the urban heat island effect, saving on heating and cooling, improving air quality and more. The water runoff is cleaner, as rain drains through plants instead of tar, green roofs provide habitat for wildlife (our Visitor Center roof usually hosts at least one flock of geese each summer), and they add life and color to the concrete landscape in a city.

Workers in the downtown area also gain mental health benefits from having a greener view. The American Psychological Association finds that “exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.”

Nature’s health benefits become even more important at the Novak Center, where the rooftop gardens were specifically created to help improve the health and well-being of the center’s young patients. Studies show that patients with access to green spaces (even only visual access) have shorter healing times, increased success with medical treatments, and improved immune health.

Summer is a great time to look out a window and see the bright, healing colors in the sky.

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