Green-roof project aims to clean up Beijing for Olympics

With the 2008 Olympics in Beijing inching closer, the Chinese are hard at work cleaning up the notoriously smog-ridden city. Polluting factories are being relocated, new pipelines are bringing in natural gas to replace dirty coal, and higher emissions standards are being applied to the city’s millions of cars. A green-rooftop project — which will blanket skyscraper roofs with sturdy grasses that soak up rainwater, heat, and carbon dioxide — is actually the city’s least expensive pre-Olympic greening venture, says project director Wang Xianmin. About 10 square feet of green roof could cost as little as $3, he says, and water and electricity costs will decrease as the sky lawns insulate rooftops during the sweltering summer heat. Says Wang, “The rooftop gardens will beautify Beijing for the Olympics, reduce air pollution, and cut down energy consumption.” Sounds like a gold-medal idea.