New building for GIS makes room for Mother Nature

Rooftop garden will be part of a regional ‘Butterfly Beltway’

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The new home of RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability is putting out the welcome mat for a special group of summertime visitors.

A garden planted Oct. 26 on the new building’s third floor “green roof” terrace is designed to attract a steady stream of butterflies. Part of Rochester’s Seneca Park Zoo Butterfly Beltway project begun in 2002, the RIT garden is the 124th in a nine-county area.

Much of the green roof is covered with sedum plants, which provide food for butterflies and other pollinators in the fall. A low berm along the southern edge of the roof was planted with 10 different kinds of native perennials that offer food, shelter and breeding sites for the colorful insects, especially monarchs, celebrated for their 3,000-mile annual migration from North America to Mexico.

“Green is really the focus of this building,” says Tina Crandall-Gommel, conservation education coordinator for the zoo. “Bringing it back to Mother Earth is a cool tie-in.”

Crandall-Gommel says zoo personnel will return sometime next summer to conduct an educational activity and butterfly release.