Meg Muckenhoupt: A Few Questions Answered

In anticipation of the Boston Flower & Garden Show we encourage you to get to know Meg Muckenhoupt a little better. Meg will be speaking about the creation and reinvention of Boston’s land and parks on March 17th at 4:30pm. We hope you’ll join us!

4.    With all the digging done downtown, what do you consider the city’s greatest achievement?
Simply removing the highway so that Bostonians can walk to the harbor has been a stunning achievement. We were cut off from the water—the very reason the city was settled!—for too long. The physical and mental geography of the city has completely changed—as have real estate values.

5.    You dedicated a whole chapter to green buildings—including green roofs in and around the city. Is this a trend that is catching on? How do green roofs benefit urban communities, and in particular Boston? There are more green roofs in the Boston area each year—not only at places like the World Trade Center and Mass General Hospital, but in the suburbs as well.
Green roofs have many benefits, but the primary reasons builders are choosing them is that they reduce stormwater runoff and energy costs. Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, and Somerville all have combined sewer overflows. That means that stormwater and sewage are carried in the same pipes. Usually, all that water goes to the Deer Island treatment plant—but during heavy storms, the pipes get overloaded, and the combined sewage and stormwater gets dumped into local rivers and the Boston Harbor. Boston builders are under a pressure to reduce stormwater runoff for this reason. Green roofs act like a giant sponge, and keep stormwater on-site, nourishing plants, and keeping pollution out of our harbor.
Green roofs also reduce energy costs by insulating the building, acting as a buffer against daily temperature swings. In the summer, a green roof heats up more slowly than a standard roof—which can reach more than 160oF! In the winter, it cools more slowly.

6.    In your book you profile a variety of nonprofits that have worked hard to improve upon the city’s public parks and open spaces. What do you want your readers to know about these groups? I want readers to understand just how many people are working to keep Boston green! Great public spaces don’t just happen; they need advocates to bring them into being. My book gives the names of several umbrella organizations such as the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the Boston Natural Areas Fund. If you want to get involved, these larger groups are a good place to start; the volunteers and staff are generally involved with smaller, more local organizations as well.

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