Green Roofs

"Green" is an adjective used to describe not only color, but also describes a commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. Municipalities are promoting their green qualities as reflected by their land use policies and zoning ordinances, which express their environmental, economic and social sustainability. Municipalities are encouraging sustainable land use policies, energy-efficient construction techniques and innovative stormwater management techniques such as vegetated roofs and rain gardens. This tool discusses some of the actions that local municipalities can take to encourage sustainable or green land use policies and land developments, promote energy efficient construction and building techniques, and encourage environmentally-sustainable stormwater management practices.


Green Roofs

This foundation uses insulated concrete forms, which will be continued into the walls. This system is well insulated, and it's thermal mass (concrete) will substantially reduce heating and cooling costs.

The use of green land use policies, construction practices and techniques provides the following advantages:


The use of green land use policies, construction practices and techniques can meet some barriers:

How to Use This Tool

Municipalities have the ability to influence the land use patterns within their jurisdictions, which directly relate to environmental, social and economic sustainability. Local governments can encourage the use of sustainable developments, green construction practices and techniques by reducing the barriers to their widespread use.

Comprehensive Planning

Green Roofs

This "living wall" uses specialized plants to filter indoor pollutants from the atmosphere and improves the air quaility in the building.

Municipalities should review their comprehensive plan's policies to ensure that they encourage land use patterns and land developments that inherently conserve energy, protect environmental resources, foster economic development and promote social equity. Comprehensive plans should encourage land use patterns and developments that:

Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances

These policies can be implemented through local zoning ordinances and subdivision and land development ordinances that utilize:

Green Roofs

This building integrates its stormwater management system with attractive water features on the site.

Promotion of LEED Certified Buildings

Municipalities can also encourage builders to design to the highest practical LEED certification. LEED-certified buildings are designed to reduce operating costs and increase a building's value, reduce landfill waste, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for their occupants, and reduce pollution. While municipalities cannot mandate the achievement of a particular LEED certification because verification often occurs after construction is complete (especially for the measurement of actual energy usage), incentives such as increased floor area or building height can be offered if the LEED point system is followed. The Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code does not currently require LEED certification, but municipalities can still encourage its use through incentives, such as by allowing additional development density or by discounting part of the application fee for building permits.

Municipalities can encourage specific design practices such as vegetated roofs and rain gardens.

Green Roofs

This vegetated roof is accessible to the building's users.


The Borough of West Chester Zoning Ordinance includes two Height Option Overlay Districts that permit taller buildings to be constructed if they are designed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star rating, or if the building achieves a rating of "LEED-NC certified" or higher. The Borough's Zoning Ordinance is available at the Borough Hall.

Related References

The Smart Communities Network helps communities design and implement innovative strategies that enhance the local economy as well as the local environment and quality of life. Its website contains a "tool kit" of sustainable information including manuals, workbooks, bibliographies, data bases, case studies, and model codes and ordinances.

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