One City Council member says it's important for government to lead by example when urging others to go green.
Landscapers Manuel Barrios, left, and Nate Sadek worked to install an 80-pound strip of vegetation Saturday morning on the roof of the Target Center in Minneapolis. The green roof will be the third installed by the city and, at 2 ½ acres, the fifth-largest in the United States.
Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman has a challenge for you.
Make your way toward the top of one of the city's taller skyscrapers. Take a look out the window and gaze upon downtown.
"It's really depressing to see the sheer amount of tarred rooftops," she said Saturday amid the hum and buzz of landscapers installing a lush veneer of green atop the Target Center. "This is an opportunity."
Under threatening skies Saturday, workers unrolled 80-pound strips of tiny plants atop a thin layer of soil, giving the $5.3 million project its first green tint since it got underway in March.
At 2 1/2 acres, project managers said, the completed project will be the fifth-largest green roof in the United States and keep an estimated 3.68 million gallons of rainwater annually from draining into the Mississippi River.
The green roof is the third installed by Minneapolis city government, joining City Hall and the downtown Central Library, which was built before the city and county library systems merged last year.
Goodman said it's important for government to lead by example when urging private corporations to go green.
"I don't like mandates for the private sector, I like incentives," Goodman said. "It has such a huge impact, and we're showing we can do it first."
The city wants to find a new partner for the proposed solar electrical-generating equipment atop the Convention Center. If successful, it would be the largest such project in the Upper Midwest.
Green projects are not just environmentally friendly but durable, said Angie Durhman, green roof manager of Tecta America, the parent corporation of Stock Roofing, the Fridley roofing company hired to install the vegetation.
"We are putting things up here one time and we're not taking them down," she said. "We want these things to last a long time."
Despite its progress, the roofing project has not been without controversy. Last month, a crew of workers complained Stock had created unsafe working conditions and was paying unfair wages. The workers were supported by Roofers and Waterproofers Local 96, who urged the company to let the workers unionize. Stock Roofing officials said the accusations are designed to garner sympathy for the workers' effort to unionize.
City officials say they investigated the concerns in April and immediately enhanced safety and lighting, and along with Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials, determined that no workers were at risk. The workers, however, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board last month, and went on strike three weeks ago, returning to work two days later. The disputes remain unresolved.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921