Activists nationwide are influencing designers to combat climate change. Designers have many options to consider when putting together plans for a new project. Should those design options be mandated or should they be just one of many considerations to help protect the environment?

In summer, Denver gets hot — so hot that it’s considered one of the most intense urban heat islands in the U.S. A new initiative would require that many new buildings have green roofs to mitigate that heat. Critics of the policy, however, say the city should incentivize, not require, the so-called “living roofs.”

The initiative could go before voters in November, if petition gatherers collect enough signatures. It would modify the local building code to require urban gardens on the roofs of buildings over 25,000 square feet, the Denver Post reports. It would be similar to an ordinance adopted recently by the city of San Francisco, which forced certain developers to incorporate solar panels or rooftop gardens into their building design.

Philadelphia has also written green roofs into local policy with a numbers-driven twist — its director of sustainability last year said that local officials would use data to find the hottest areas in the city and install green roofs there. According to the EPA, “on hot summer days, the surface temperature of a green roof can be cooler than the air temperature, whereas the surface of a conventional rooftop can be up to 90°F (50°C) warmer.”

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