Calendar  |  Centennial Gift Shop  |  Donate to Campaign   Give to Regis
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Vimeo
1914 | 2014       The Centennial Celebration       1914 | 2014
Multimedia Gallery
The Regis Green Roof
This summer was the fourth anniversary of the installation of Regis High School's green roof. The Spring 2010 edition of the Regis Alumni News magazine featured a story about greening efforts at Regis. A reprint of the roof feature from that article is provided here.

The 1930 Regis Football Team
Above: A picture of the Regis green roof.

The Regis Green Roof

In May of 2006, Regis hired an engineering firm, O’Dea, Lynch, Abbattista Consulting Engineers, to conduct an energy audit of the school in hopes of discovering ways to save money on annual operating costs. The firm examined our electrical usage, heating and cooling systems, building “envelope”, and hot water supplies. We were shocked to learn how much energy and other materials we have been rather mindlessly wasting, to the detriment of not only our budget, but our environment as well.

As awareness of climate change increases, so does the amount of information available about new technologies designed to help institutions such as Regis act as responsible stewards of their local environments. We responded by making improvements to our building and eliminating inefficient and wasteful practices. So what began as a way to “green” Regis’ wallet ultimately developed new meaning, as “greening” both saves money and is the appropriate ethical response to the challenging environmental issues facing today’s world.

Ever wonder what’s on Regis’ roof? Only a student bent on testing the SOPs would have reason to venture beyond the fifth floor, so few have solved the mystery for themselves. Colorful myths have arisen over the years, no doubt. Seniors try, often successfully, to convince freshmen that there is a pool up there, but the truth may surprise you the most—nothing! That will soon change, however, as the roof is the site of the most extensive undertaking associated with this initiative. The Green Roof Project began in the summer of 2009, when Regis hired Greensulate, a firm specializing in the design, engineering, installation, and maintenance of green roof systems to replace its sacristy and lower courtyard roofs. Encouraged by the success of this initial demonstration, Regis recently begun the full-scale replacement of its upper roofs, to be completed prior to the start of the 2010-11 school year.

A green roof is “a living extension of an existing or newly constructed roof.” It consists of a waterproofing membrane, drainage system, lightweight growing medium and plants. How does cultivating an enormous rooftop garden help Regis? By crowning the building with a thin layer of vegetation, Regis not only adds beautiful green space to Manhattan’s concrete jungle, but also improves its aforementioned building “envelope”, effectively stabilizing its interior climate, thereby lowering the cost of cooling the building. In addition, green roofs tend to last about two and a half times longer than standard roofs, because the layer of vegetation shields the roof itself from weather damage. The environmental impact, on the other hand, is more obvious. Green roofs clean and cool the air as its plants consume carbon dioxide and emit oxygen in photosynthesis. They provide homes for the city’s insect and bird populations, thus increasing biodiversity. Green roofs also absorb storm water that would otherwise flow into the city’s sewer system, limiting the volume of runoff and preventing street floods and sewage spills.

Although Regis made these plans independent of any curricular concerns, the Green Roof Project caught the attention of Dr. Stuart Gaffin, Director of Columbia University’s Center for Climate Systems Research. “The roof space is one of the most impressive potential urban green roof sites I have seen,” he wrote in a letter to Rev. Philip G. Judge, S.J. ’80, President of Regis. “As Regis is a leading academic institution in New York City, it is an ideal opportunity to expand the school’s science and sustainability curriculum by creating an outdoor living laboratory.” Regis will thus install scientific monitoring equipment, including a weather station, green roof temperature and soil moisture monitoring stands, a flow rate measurement system, and biodiversity monitoring equipment. All data will stream live via the internet. Columbia will have access to the data for use in their ongoing research, but monitoring capability will also be an invaluable resource to Regis’ Science Department, particularly to the Science Research Project. A network of paths and platforms will connect each station, making the space easily navigable. “We are very excited about this project and the value the data will bring to your students and teachers, not to mention the discussion of New York City urban heat and runoff island mitigation strategies and biodiversity enhancement.”

As it turns out, Gaffin’s isn’t the only project eager to utilize this newly available green space. Dr. Matthew Palmer, also of Columbia University, will plant an experimental meadow of native grasses. Dr. Luca Matone of the Science Department will utilize one of the elevated platforms for astronomical observation. Even Cater To You, Regis’ cafeteria service, intends to maintain an herb garden. Indeed, the enthusiasm generated by the project seems contagious, and it seems students will soon get their chance to visit the roof after all!

Electricity and the Regis Roof
It takes an enormous amount of energy to keep Regis running at top speed. With the cost of energy steadily rising, we need to be ever mindful of ways we can save. Though it has been temporarily removed to allow construction of the green roof, Regis recently installed a 20 kilowatt solar panel array on the upper roof. This fixture typically generates 5-7% of the school’s electricity needs, but don’t take our word for it—You can track its performance, both current and historical, on the internet! Please visit and click on “Solar Energy Stats” in the “Useful Links” section.


U.S. Congresswoman Maloney Celebrates a New Green Roof at Regis High School
Oct 7, 2010

New York, NY—Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D - Manhattan, Queens) today joined Columbia University Professor Stuart Gaffin, Regis High School Principal Philip Judge and Members of the School’s Board of Trustees, alumni, teachers and students to dedicate Regis High School’s much anticipated new green roof. The green roof at Regis is one of approximately ten roofs that will be the subject of Columbia’s Earth Institute with federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The study will determine the effectiveness of green roofs in reducing pollution and conserving energy. At 20,000 square feet, Regis’ green roof is the largest in New York City.

“This green roof is not only a wonderful amenity for Regis’ students and teachers, but also for the entire nation,” Representative Maloney remarked. “The findings of Columbia’s study could make an important contribution to the future development of green roofs throughout the country.” She added, “I am delighted that Regis students will have the opportunity to learn more about the environment while contributing to the nation’s understanding of the efficacy of green roofs in lowering energy costs. Regis students have always been exceptional – and now they have an equally exceptional green roof.”

The 20,000 square foot green roof includes an on-site biodiversity laboratory, an organic garden, and an astronomy observation area. The five-story Jesuit High School, located at 55 East 84th Street in New York’s 14th Congressional District represented by Congresswoman Maloney, is widely regarded as one of the city’s top schools, and with this innovative new space it is literally taking learning to a new height. The new green roof will be used by teachers to provide students with first-hand knowledge of ecology, conservation, and earth science. With funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which Congresswoman Maloney supported, the National Science Foundation awarded Columbia University $476,000 to continue its work on comparing and evaluating the effectiveness of different green roof technologies. Columbia researchers hope the results will lead to improved scientific understanding of green roof performance, optimize its functionality, and provide insight into its potential benefits to human health, economic efficiency and pollution reduction. The Earth Institute at Columbia University has installed monitoring equipment on the roof at Regis High School and will be using the data it collects as part of its sustainability research.

The 1930 Regis Football Team
Above: Fr. Judge gave Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerry Russo ’95 of Mayor Bloomberg’s Office a tour following Regis’ Green Roof Dedication Ceremony.