Use your imagination for a second to envision the heat waves radiating off of black-top roofs in a downtown metropolis. That heat doesn't just radiate into the surrounding air, it is absorbed through the building beneath as well. This can damage the buildings themselves along with the people and products inside. Conventional methods for coping with excess heat have been the installation of electric cooling systems. Air-conditioning costs can make up as much as 45% of the energy bill in some cities. Not only is that costly, but it saps from the already burdened sources we use for energy; oil, coal, natural gas, and other non-renewable resources.
What then can be done to cope with the excess heat that is only increasing with rising global temperatures? Obviously, the traditional methods aren't working. We can't simply add more systems. This is where outside the box thinking comes in. With the right pool of insight, an open minded approach, a little elbow grease, and of course imagination, new solutions become evident: Green Roofs. And that's not roofs painted green or installing green tiles. They are actually groves of vegetation installed on the rooftops. The plants naturally absorb sunlight, conquering the job of dissipating that excess heat. As is the case with many innovative solutions, there are many other added benefits as well. Remember the heat that is radiated into the surroundings? It is reduced as well. The plants are also selected for filtering pollution and the gardens can be equipped to collect rain water to be used for additional cooling and in some cases drinking. This is a wonderful example of how the imagination is used by society to intelligently design cities.