Green rooftops are all the rage, with buildings in the greater Boston area providing platforms for temperature control and even sky-high gardens used by restaurants, supermarkets and food pantries. We’re not aware of any such food gardens atop Wellesley business buildings, but Wellesley High School is a good example of a structure designed from the top down with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind — including drains that recycle rain water, solar panels and a green roof.
While we’ve taken and seen plenty of photos from outside and inside of Wellesley High, and even received photos of the old WHS going down that were taken from the roof of the new building, we hadn’t recalled seeing any of the new high school’s rooftop itself. So we recently put out a call for a WHS student to gain rooftop access at the school (with the administration’s permission) and snap some photos for us. Rebecca Taylor, a senior whose talents include photography, writing and technical theatre, responded to our plea.
In exploring the Wellesley High rooftop Rebecca learned that the garden up there is 18 inches deep and is used mostly for drainage, though it also serves the purpose of protecting the roof structure itself. The garden is located directly above the house of the auditorium and helps to keep it cool.
Rebecca entered the green roof from a fourth floor classroom and was able to walk around the garden via a two-foot-or-so wide path: “I would never have guessed access was from there.”
She described the roof as being very clean, with no bird nests, nor with any debris tossed from below. As you can see from the photos, taken with a cellphone camera, the roof garden is actually more brown than green for now, with many Sedum plants still looking to sprawl out (“I could see a few other plants growing there, probably from the wind or birds having dropped seeds.”). However, the garden is still serving its purpose despite not being totally green in color yet.
Rebecca, who will attend Beloit College in Wisconsin, summed up her experience reaching new heights at Wellesley High like this: “It was really fun to be up there. I wonder what it will look like in a few years when the plants are more grown.”