“How Shelley’s Resourcefulness Got her a Green Roof 


  • Client: Shelley and David Moskowitz
  • Project: Residential Green Roof
  • Geographic Area: Washington DC Metro Area

How She Describes Rainplan: 

“A streamlined way to be able to install a green roof garden and to be able to both improve the property and be environmentally considerate. Doing something good for the community and doing something good for our own home. Rainplan makes it easier to act on our own values and be able to accomplish the goal of a healthy sustainable community.”

green roof in dc


At some point we have all been to a public library. For those of us who frequent the library, there is a solid understanding of being inundated with flyers on cork boards and signage about events, services, or partnerships. While most of use apps or groups online now, walking into a public library is the physical manifestation of walking into the community Craigslist page. It’s a lot to take in, but for the observant, it’s a treasure trove of resources. And if the public library is the community treasure chest, then Shelley Moskowitz could be considered its premiere pirate. 

“I remember seeing a sign at the library that indicated that there was a rain garden that had been set up by RiverSmart”, states Moskowitz. “I get a lot of my information from the library”.

RiverSmart is the DOEE’s (DC’s department of Energy and Environment) best not-so-secret- anymore program. Numerous property owners have utilized program resources in the past. 

“I remember looking for it online, finding it, putting our name on the list, and then I don’t remember hearing anything”, says Moskowitz. “There seemed to be a long waiting list. It always stayed in the back of my mind that that would be a cool thing to explore and possibly do. So I put our name back on the list about four years ago and they responded and I didn’t let the ball drop this time.” 

Working with RiverSmart, Shelley and her husband David installed two rain gardens in their yard, planted a few trees, and added in two rain barrels to collect water runoff from their roof. Rain gardens and rain barrels are popular stormwater bmp (best management practices) in the DC area. For one, DC has just the right amount of precipitation each year to make rain harvesting a viable environmental hobby. Two, in the DC region, residents are well aware of the MS4 combined sewer system and its effects on the Anacostia and Potomac water ways.

DC’s direct economical engagement and proximity to these waterways has led to regulation, utility fees, and more when it comes to protecting the local waters from pollution. Stormwater has become enemy #1 in the region, as cities continue to boom and water runoff continues to carry oils, chemicals, and bacteria over hardscapes and into rivers and streams. 

“We were aware that the DC government is supportive of creating environmental incentives and we went through that process with RiverSmart”, says Moskowitz. “Rainplan was another piece of it but even better with the help and support of the team to do all the steps”. 

Utilizing local resources and incentive programs is what Moskowitz seemingly does best. This makes sense considering her time spent volunteering at the East Rock Creek Village-a senior center dedicated to helping the aging in the area-and her job as the founder of her own consulting firm focusing on coaching nonprofit boards and the like. Plus both Shelly and David Moskowitz went to Tulane and were politically active in the environmental movement. 

“Being rooted where we live, that’s a very high value for us”, states Moskowitz. “Also since we now have our own business, we don’t always have consistent income so we do look for ways to improve the property smartly and make our own contribution to the community by doing these green things that fit into our values and our priorities”. 

After discovering Rainplan the Moskowitz’s decided to update their roof and turn it into a green roof- a roof compiled of different casing and sediment to make it possible for someone to plant small succulents or grasses on top of their home. 

“I saw a FB ad about Rainplan. So that’s what I clicked on it and was like ‘Oh this looks like a streamlined way to explore the process and see if we qualify’, says Moskowitz.

The Moskowitz family installed a small green roof on the side of their home, covering a 216 sq. ft area and enough space to plant a small succulent garden. 

“With the green roof I am so happy to go up on the roof particularly around sunset-and in DC you don’t get up high very often”, says Moskowitz. “Yet here we are and there’s nothing that blocks the way and you can see the most amazing sunsets and it makes me so happy.”