Green Roof Learning Center

Calhoun’s Green Roof Learning Center was the first eco-friendly green roof in NYC dedicated to educational study. Lush spring flowers, which marked the opening of Calhoun’s Green Roof in May 2005, now share the growing beds with a garden of herbs, vegetables and fruit trees.

Calhoun’s Green Roof offers multiple environmental benefits: it reduces storm water runoff (reportedly by 40 percent — or an average of almost 26,000 gallons of water every year); provides insulation to reduce heating and cooling needs; helps filter the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen; and provides a food source for wildlife.The Calhoun School celebrated the opening of its new Green Roof Learning Center in May 2005. The space was designed by FXFowle Architects, PC (formerly Fox & Fowle Architects) as part of a four-story addition to the School's main building at 433 West End Avenue (81st Street). The roof's semi-intensive design means it can be used as a functional outdoor space; hence the name, "Green Roof Learning Center."

How Calhoun Uses Its Green Roof

Calhoun’s renowned lunch program has been a major beneficiary of our Green Roof herb garden, which is planted each spring as a joint project between Lower School classes and our food service chefs — who frequently visit classrooms and conduct after-school clubs to promote nutrition and healthy eating habits.

The Green Roof has been used for environmental and plant biology studies as well as for units in math (geometry).

The Green Roof has also been the site of an outdoor art installation and various receptions, a source of inspiration for poetry classes, and a favorite escape from urban life!

How the Green Roof Came To Be

The idea for adding a Green Roof was initially suggested by a Trustee. The recommendation came at an opportune time, just as Calhoun was in the drawing-board stages for the four-story addition to the School's main building. But the immediate and overwhelming approval by the Board reflects the School's commitment to its educational mission — not only to the intellectual growth of our students, but also to developing their social awareness and an understanding of their ethical responsibility to the world in which we live.

Awards & Recognition

Design Award
Calhoun and FX Fowle Architects, PC, were named recipients of the 2007 Merit Award for innovative learning environments by DesignShare, an industry resource in the area of school construction. DesignShare jurors called the four-floor addition a "courageous design," with special mention of the Green Roof as "an innovation in the architecture for learning."

EE Ford Grant
Calhoun was among the small number of schools nationally that forged ahead in building a Green Roof, and was the first educational institution in New York City to build an eco-friendly Green Roof that is also "programmable," e.g. functional for educational use. In recognition of Calhoun's leadership role in this area, the project received a $50,000 matching grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation, which supports innovative educational programs pioneered by independent secondary schools.

Top Green School
Shortly after the opening of the Green Roof, Calhoun was honored as one of the top Green Schools in the country by The Green Guide (July/August 2005). It has also been featured on, the international greenroof industry's resource and online information portal.

Green Roof

Tours & Information

Tours of the Green Roof are open to the public--particularly educational and governmental groups, local residential and community groups.

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