Amy’s DC Green Roof

Mar 18, 2022



How Amy Butler’s Green Roof is Changing Her Neighborhood

  • Client: Amy Butler
  • Project: Residential Green Roof
  • Geographic Area: Washington DC Metro Area

Washington DC Green roof

 “You know there’s Gladys on the corner, and she knows everything about everyone. The first time I wore my collar out the front door…everyone knew what I did for a living”. 


Over half a million people live in Washington, DC, yet each ward in the city feels like a small town. Just ask Amy Butler, a resident of Ward 5 in the Queens Chapel neighborhood, whose job as a pastor naturally lends itself to community building in the area.


“This was one of the first planned developments in DC. Most of my neighbors are in their 80s or 90s, and they tell me if you want to do a block party, you have to organize it”, says Butler. “Douglas is my next-door neighbor, and he’s 94, and he likes to garden. He’s always asking if he can clean up my alley, and I bake him cookies. It’s a cute thing”.


Butler is a force for understanding the dynamics of people living collectively together.


“I love to garden, but I lived in Manhattan the past decade, so I haven’t had space, but it’s one of the reasons I love being here,” states Butler. “I can have a little garden patch in the back. You know, tomatoes, zucchinis, and jalapeños”.


After New York City, Butler initially moved to a Maryland neighborhood known for progressive environmental incentives.


“I lived in a cohousing community in Takoma Park, and we had a green roof there, so I was very familiar with what it looks like,” says Butler.


In her new community of Queens Chapel, Butler took a few of her prior experiences and decided to add a green roof to her new home.


“When I moved into this house, I did major remodeling. I had to renovate everything, and I was thinking about doing a green roof although it wasn’t leaking or anything”, reports Butler. “I just thought as long as I’m doing all this, I should take care of it. The roof was like 70 years old”. 


After being referred by a DC group, Butler came to Rainplan with ideas for a green roof garden on her flat roof home-a a popular style for the area.

green roof assembly


“It turns out my roof is perfect for a green roof. I like it. Not only has it already changed the temperature inside the house, but it also says to my neighbors that I care about the earth”, says Butler.  “It shows my values.” 


It took around four months for installation to fit a green roof onto Butler’s home. With cooperation from DC programs, architects, and Rainplan, the project became affordable and easily adjusted to her already in motion renovations.

 “I can’t even imagine a person going to the DC government and filing for an incentive. Rainplan is like the person who holds your hand through the whole process. Everyone I’ve met has been delightful to work with”, states Butler.

Green roofs are a popular choice among residents and business complexes with flat roofs in the DC area. A green roof can weigh less than a standard shingled, lasts twice as long, and has increased property resale value.


“I think people need to see it,” shares Butler. “I feel like this neighborhood is prime potential for Rainplan because all houses and the roofs are flat. So there has to be a way to let people know what the options are”. 


For now, Butler looks forward to the future possibilities for her new space and caring for her new green roof garden.

Winter plants on green roof

 “It’s the joke of the neighborhood. ‘Oh, Amy’s watering her roof.’ I try to water once or twice a week”, quips Butler.

My partner Ryan went up there once to weed, which was funny because he was Face Timing me and asking, “Is this a weed? Is this a weed?”. Together, we are figuring out how to take care of it”.


With incentive funding, expedited processing with contractors, and someone there to guide you throughout the process, Rainplan can help take a vision and turn it into something achievable. Sure Butler is an ambitious go-getter with experience in mobilizing communities and making things happen. However, even the most ambitious of us still need help in navigating the complex government incentive process.


“I would like to do permeable pavers in my back patio area when the timing is right. I had such a positive experience with the incentive system that I was like, ‘why not do something else?’ I would love to work with rainplan again”.