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ESF brings the shore of Lake Ontario to a new level

Ellen Abbott
WRVO file photo

SUNY ESF is showing off plants that will create a green roof on the new Gateway Center, which will open later this year.

This new green roof will almost be like visiting the shore of Lake Ontario.

Professor Don Leopold says plants in a roof garden can't have deep roots, so using plants that you find on a lakeshore make sense.

"There are some really rare grasses and wildflowers.  There are a number of state protected wildflower like the harebell that's blooming right now and the prairie smoke that's only in a couple of places in New York state and sand cherry that occurs on the dunes of eastern Lake Ontario," Leopold said.

SUNY ESF President Neil Murphy says there are a couple of advantages to a green roof.

'We'll have very little storm water that will be released from the roof of that building because almost all of it will be used in the uptake for the vegetation. The other thing is it reduces heating and cooling logs," Murphy said.

Part of the cost of this is coming from Governor Cuomo's regional council initiative and the state's environmental facilities corporation headed by Matt Driscoll.

"These plants are abundant in central New York and haven't been used in this effort before and including some small shrubs and small tree like material.  It's a fascinating project," Driscoll said.

A number of plants have been tested on the top of Illick Hall at SUNY ESF to see which ones are hardy enough for a roof garden.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.