Up On the Roof Gardens, Solar Panels, Event Space & A Whole Lot More

I recently heard an old 1950s song called “Up on the Roof” on Spotify recently. While it was all about finding peace and tranquility “up on the roof” of an old apartment building in the hot, busy city, it got me thinking. Hmmm, up on the roof? I’ve been hearing a lot about that lately. That’s because, right now, there exists in the meetings and event industry a whole new movement that’s unfolding “up on the roof.” That movement is to take that blank slate of concrete square footage and put it to positive, purposeful, and/or imaginative use.

Rooftop Reinvention
That, in turn, got me thinking that if a meeting or event planner wants to get an in-depth look at a convention center, hotel, restaurant, or other venue in terms of its overall philosophy of operation, a LEED’s Silver Certificate certainly helps, but also find out what’s going on overhead. Not in the executive office but, rather, on the actual rooftop. In recent times, so many of them have opted to reinvent the rooftop in order to cut costs, save energy, give back to the community, show off their fair city, or just be imaginative. 

For instance, so many facilities and venues of all sizes are now growing their own fruits and vegetables up on the roof to be used by the catering department. And, why not? They are tastier that way and more nutritious, too, and any overload can be donated to nearby food pantries. This helps the planet as rooftop fruits and veggies don’t have to be shipped anywhere, saving fuel and cutting costs. 

A Bee-All Convention Center
Look at Detroit’s Huntington Place which is always a forerunner in so many areas of the industry. It’s gone one step further. To quote from a recent press release: 

Summer is in full bloom along the Detroit Riverfront, in part because of the 250,000 honey bees that live in five beehives on the convention center’s green roof, having been installed in 2017 by Bees in the D. These five hives are part of a 200-honeybee hive network that house 12 million bees at 60 locations across five Michigan counties, all placed by Peterson-Roest and his army of volunteers. 
That is huge! Why? Well, scientists have been seriously concerned about the sudden decreased number of honeybees that are presumably dying of a yet-to-be-determined disease. Their demise will seriously affect our food supply and, again, the planet. As Becky Bixby, assistant general manager of Huntington Place/ASM Global recently observed, “The bees are our smallest partners, but some of our most important!” I just love that way of thinking and, as a planner, would want to do business with a place like that. 

What’s Up on the Roof?
Then, too, a more direct way to save energy and costs is the recent move to install solar panels. Where? Up on the roof again. Over at the Phoenix Convention Center, another forerunner in the latest strategies to do right by this planet, they have installed solar panels – all 732 of them.

But, even when a facility or venue uses its rooftop for fun things like a swimming pool, bar and lounge, event space, night spot, or whatever, it helps the environment by utilizing what it already has and by not using the earth’s resources to construct additional space. And, truthfully, what better way to show off the exquisite skyline of the host city, all 360 degrees of it, with its winding rivers, high-rise buildings, sunrises, sunsets, scenic mountain ranges off in the distance, and more?

So, next time when shopping around for a convention center, hotel, restaurant, or other venue for an upcoming event, large or small, make your last question “What’s up on the roof,” and you will, hopefully, gain a new appreciation for all the great things this industry is doing every day – and be proud you are part of it.

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