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Additional Resources

Visit the PS41 website, and their Greenroof Environmental Literacy Laboratory (GELL) page. For more info contact Vicki Sando at:

Learn about LiveRoof in The Greenroof Directory.

Case Studies

New York Green Roof; Jonathan Rose Companies; MBB Architects.


August 11, 2020 COVID19 And The Rise Of Green Roof Top Classrooms? by Emma Tamlin in Living Architecture Monitor; February 3, 2014 P.S. 41 develops a new green roof curriculum by Trude Chandler in City Atlas; January 7, 2014 Three NYC Eco-Schools Collaborate on Green Roof Curriculum Guide by Amy Sirot in National Wildlife Federation blog; July 16, 2013 Incredible green roof on P.S. 41 by Pam Seltzer in City Atlas; May 8, 2013 Big Town Going Green: An Outdoor Classroom by Holly Reich in New York Daily News; September 21, 2012 Green Roof Environmental Literacy Laboratory (GELL) Ready for Students Returning to P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village LiveRoof Press Release.

New York City public school students and officials hosted a design unveiling ceremony for a first-of-its-kind Greenroof Environmental Literacy Laboratory (GELL) on March 2, 2010 at PS41 in Greenwich Village. According to PS41’s announcement in 2010, “The K-5 grammar school’s goal is to create a learning laboratory that raises environmental literacy and enhances students’ awareness of the stewardship role they play in the health of the planet. In addition to ecological study, the GELL will incorporate lessons in chemistry, biology, mathematics, nutrition and aesthetics. Providing a habitat for birds, bats, butterflies and other insects, at the same time the GELL will help improve air quality, as well as reduce the city’s carbon footprint and sewage-storm water runoff.”

When students returned to PS41 in Greenwich Village for the start of the new 2012 school year, they found a wonderful resource finally ready for them. After six years of planning, fundraising, building evaluation and construction, the Greenroof Environmental Literacy Laboratory (GELL) at PS41 has been completed. The school’s 9,000-square-foot green roof, the centerpiece of GELL, was installed in August 2012 with the LiveRoof Hybrid Green Roof System (LiveRoof Standard 4.25-inch Modules, 96.5 percent and LiveRoof Deep six-inch Modules, 3.5 percent).

“The installation of our green roof fulfills PS41’s dream of establishing a living learning laboratory to boost environmental literacy and enable our students to learn about their stewardship role in the health of the planet,” said Vicki Sando, Environmental Science Program Developer at PS41. “With GELL, we enhance hands-on educational opportunities for our students on sustainability, environmental stewardship and urban gardening.”

“The green roof provides important benefits for the community as well as our school. It reduces stormwater runoff, moderates the heat that builds up in urban areas, decreases the school’s carbon footprint, and helps improve local air quality,” said Kelly Shannon, Principal, PS41. “It also shades and insulates the roof and lowers the interior sound level as well.”

“Since completion of the green roof and other major renovation work in 2013, data from the 2019 Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager, an online building energy monitoring tool, details a 32.70% decrease in total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (metric tons C02e) from the school’s 2008 energy baseline. There was a 27.80% reduction in the annual amount of energy that PS 41 consumes onsite, as reported on utility bills, or Site EUI (kBtu/ft2). PS 41’s green roof has made a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions on City-owned property.

In addition to reducing the school’s energy usage, the green roof is advantageous for reducing large quantities of stormwater runoff because of its absorptive capacity and expansive surface. The 9,000 square feet of vegetation can sequester roughly 182,250 gallons of stormwater annually. This quality is particularly beneficial during a significant rain event when NYC’s wastewater treatment plants are overburdened and release pollutants into the City’s waterways.

Our green roof has also become a critical wildlife habitat for both native and migratory birds and insects. A wide variety of birds- including red-tailed hawks, kestrels, and migrating yellow warblers – have been observed throughout the school year. The insect population is also robust, and the school has planted milkweed, along with other native plants, to aid the declining monarch butterfly population. The school’s proximity to Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, The High Line, and Jacob Javits Center’s green roof creates a pathway of connected habitats that allows wildlife to travel throughout the City. Converting a fraction of the NYC DOE’s 1,300 school building rooftops to green spaces would positively impact the surrounding community, reduce energy use for heating, cooling, and electricity, thereby mitigating the City’s greenhouse gas emissions.” ~ PS 41 GELL

PS41 is a K-5 grammar school that serves about 800 students. Located at 116 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village, PS41 is at the heart of one of New York City’s high-density neighborhoods with little open space. GELL’s 15,000-square-foot observational learning environment (set back six feet from the roof’s perimeter and protected by a fence) provides much needed green space. It includes a central outdoor classroom area and features a 9,000-square-foot green roof – the largest municipal green roof on a New York City public school. In addition to ecological study, GELL is integrated into the curriculum to support lessons in science, mathematics, nutrition, literacy, art, and aesthetics.

“LiveRoof is the modular green roof system that creates a naturally functioning ecosystem on the rooftop. And once set in place, its modules are hidden beneath the plants and soil so that no edges of the modules are visible to disrupt the natural appearance of the green roof,” said Jose Miranda, Associate, Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects (New York, NY). “Its pre-vegetated modules are installed already dense with full-grown plants to create an instant green roof.”

The total project budget for GELL was $1.7 million, including $450,000 for the modular green roof system, the plants, delivery, and installation. New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer allocated city capital funding for the project, which also received support from the State of New York as well as corporate and private donations.

“I am extremely proud that the Council supported the Greenroof Environmental Literacy Laboratory. It will enable PS41 students to broaden their understanding of important environmental issues and the steps they can take to help green our city,” said City Council Speaker Quinn. “I look forward to seeing its effects on PS41 and the surrounding community. It is a wonderful way to raise environmental awareness among the youngest and brightest New Yorkers.”

New York Green Roofs consulted with Jonathan Rose Companies on the design and oversaw installation of the project. Ongoing maintenance is also provided by New York Green Roofs and is supported directly by PS 41 PTA.

“The opening of the Greenroof Environmental Literacy Laboratory at PS41 is a landmark event, not just because it is the largest such roof at a New York City public school – but because it expands our commitment to making environmental study a fixture in classrooms,” said Manhattan Borough President Stringer.

“This laboratory will boost students’ knowledge of environmental priorities and also benefit the community by reducing stormwater runoff and the school’s carbon footprint and improving air quality. Just as important, it shows that worthy projects like this can become a reality through community-based advocacy and governmental assistance. I am proud to have helped support the GELL project, and look forward to boosting others like it in the years ahead.” ~ Manhattan Borough President Stringer

STEM teacher Vicki Sando, PS41 Environmental Science Program Developer and GELL founder, received the 2014 Verdant Brainiac from EBbie Awards for her scalable green renovation GELL project.

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