For the Introduction to GIS final project this Fall, the class learned and published map applications using the ArcGIS online service provided by ESRI. For my project, I conducted a spatial study on the feasibility and potential benefits of green roofs in the Dickinson College campus. The reason why I wanted to do this is because green roofs would be a great way to advance Dickinson’s mission and sustainability. Green roofs have been used extensively throughout history, and cities are now encouraging its implementation as they significantly help fight climate change, along with several other benefits. These include increased levels of oxygen and decreased levels of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants; insulation; protection against flooding and runoff; and a source of locally grown food.

For this study, three Dickinson buildings were selected based upon the flatness of their roofs and the availability of space on them: the college main library, Kaufman Hall, and the Holland Union Building. The potential green roofs would contain greenhouses and rooftop gardens, wooden paths for aesthetic and accessibility purposes, fences for security purposes, and staircases for access from the inside of the building.
An online map application was created using ArcMap 10.1 and the online mapping service provided by ESRI. Potential costs were estimated for all of the elements and carbon dioxide absorption rates were estimated for the rooftop gardens. Both sets of data were estimated by finding the cost per square foot for each element from online sources and online marketplaces, such as Amazon, and creating new fields on the attribute tables on ArcMap and using the field calculator tool.
On ArcMap, layers for all Dickinson buildings and satellite imagery were used to create polygons representing greenhouses, rooftop gardens, staircases, wooden paths and fences. This was done with the editing tool in ArcMap. The map layers were then added to the ArcGIS online map service and an online map and map application were created.

The main product is an online map application that users can access for their information. The map shows all layers with a basemap for Carlisle streets. Buildings that would not serve as potential candidates for green roofs were represented in gray-colored filled polygons, while the three buildings selected for green roofs were represented by black-outlined and hollow polygons.


Full Map


Library with pop-up text box containing information on a potential garden


Union building with pop-up text box containing information on a potential greenhouse


Kaufman Hall with pop-up text box containing information on a potential staircase connecting the inside of the building with the roof


The estimates for prices were close to $630,000 for all greehouses, and close to $1,075,000 for all gardens. The approximate cost for all three green roofs was estimated at $1,800,000. In addition, the total rate of absorption was estimated at 0.94 metric tons of carbon dioxide.


Although costly, green roofs have multiple benefits and have the potential of substantially cutting on electricity, heat and ventilation costs in the longer-term. At a college campus, they can also serve as great learning laboratories for students and faculty, and can look very appealing for visitors.

The ArcGIS online application was very useful to present this data and make it accessible to a much broader audience.