Arts & Culture

Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.

Green Rooftops in Lancaster City

Written by Joe Ulrich, Arts & Culture Desk and WITF Host | Jun 18, 2013 3:05 PM

Photo by Joe Ulrich

The green roof on top of The Groff's Family Funeral and Cremation Services building in Lancaster.

From a distance, it looks like a field with patches of green, red and yellow. But it's right in downtown Lancaster, on top of The Groff's Family Funeral and Cremation Service. "It's grown now for three years," says President Lisa Groff, "And it changes colors really remarkably over the years." The roof of the Groff's business is part of an initiative in Lancaster known as The Lancaster County Roof Greening Project. Cities in particular have a lot of runoff water that collects pollutants before flowing ultimately into nearby waterways. Having more plants helps soak up the water.

Fritz Schroeder is the director of LIVE Green, a program of the Lancaster County Conservancy, the group who works with the city by talking to local business about green rooftops. "A green roof captures and retains between 50-70% of all the rain that falls on it" says Fritz, "but it also slows up to 90% of the rain that falls on it. And that's the key; if we can delay it from reaching the combined sewer system then we've had a positive impact."

The project has covered over 80,000 square feet of the city's rooftops with greenery, but the goal is to double that over the next several years. For more about water conservation and pollution prevention, you can visit LIVE Green's SAVE IT website. Listen to the feature and see photos of The Groff's rooftop below.

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  • Dave img 2013-06-19 11:35

    Interesting. Does this work with a normal, pitched roof? How much additional weight can a roof like this tolerate? In the future, we will likely be taxed for square footage of non-permeable surface, so this may be something to consider. Seems like there are structural limitations though.

    • Joe Ulrich img 2013-06-19 13:00

      Hey Dave, thanks for the question. I'm working on getting an answer for you.

    • Fritz Schroeder img 2013-06-19 14:46

      Hi Dave - We work with structural engineers on all of our projects to insure the building can handle the weight load, generally we're looking to design a green roof for a minimum of 23-26 lbs per square foot saturated. Slight slopes can work but we've focused mostly on flat roofs.

  • Mike McMonagle img 2013-06-19 13:03

    Fritz and the Live Green team are on top of their game. Our green roof at Tellus360 (also located in downtown Lancaster) is now in its third summer and looking beautiful – a nice slice of nature in the middle of the busy downtown. Live Green's Save It! Lancaster project ( is an invaluable resource for both businesses and residences to learn how they can do their part to help offset stormwater overflow.

    Additionally, our green roof has taken on a life of its own as we feature Yoga on the Roof throughout the summer. Come out for a class and see the roof firsthand... (