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Happy Earth Day! Did you know the Barclays Center's green roof doesn't perform as proposed, was revived to muffle escaping bass, and that added steel undermines environmental benefit?

On Earth Day, we get a rather self-serving message from the Barclays Center, which says its 135,000 square-foot green roof is "the largest-ever green roof to cover a sporting venue." 

But despite claims of sustainability--like eliminating single-use plastic straws at arena events--the green roof is closer to greenwashing. The original green roof--once planned to be open to the public, then to those in adjacent towers, then to nobody--was supposed to help with sustainability, but original developer Forest City abandoned it, telling WNYC's Matthew Schuerman that its stormwater management role couldn’t work. 

Later, though, executive MaryAnne Gilmartin acknowledged the green roof "needed to be value-engineered."

Escaping bass

After the Barclays Center opened, there were problems: during certain bass-heavy concerts, the booms could be felt in the streets nearby, and in homes. The arena was, essentially, a giant sub-woofer.

They needed a solution--and a cover story. The developers claimed this merely revived original architect Frank Gehry's concept, offering an "amenity" for adjacent tenants, and friendly article stated:
Environmental advangages of the turf include more effective insulation, lower heating and cooling costs, smog control, and reduced stormwater runoff.
But  state documents confirmed it would muffle escaping bass. 

As Metals in Construction put it, “the resulting gap between the new and existing roof surfaces provides added benefit in curtailing noise emission."

That posed a problem. Environmental journalist Lloyd Alter commented on my blog:
The thing is, they essentially built a steel bridge across the whole stadium to hold this up. Or as I said in my post, The carbon footprint and embodied energy of so much steel far outweighs the environmental benefits of any green roof, let alone this one. The whole thing, from start to finish is a multimillion dollar environmental negative. 

His original post is here