It used to be that whenever you flew into a city and looked down, what you saw was a slate of hard, dark roofs soaking up heat and contributing to making the metropolis up to 22 degrees warmer than the countryside. But these days, here and there you can spy a patch of green amid the gray. These green roofs not only help cool things down, they also provide habitat for birds and bees. Here are a few of the most extraordinary roofs blooming across North America. Look for them the next time you’re flying into one of these cities.

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Target Center
courtesy target center
Sportiest
Target Center, Minneapolis 
The roof of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ arena is covered with native prairie plants and grooved with pavers that mimic the veins of a leaf. When it rains, this 2.5-acre topper soaks up nearly a million gallons of water that would otherwise pollute the Mississippi River. The endangered Karner blue butterfly flutters among the lupines.

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Brooklyn Grange
green roofs for healthy cities
Most Edible
Brooklyn Grange; Queens, N.Y.
Purportedly the world’s largest rooftop farm grows six stories above the street and offers a grand view of Manhattan. It supplies local restaurants with peppers, eggplants and 40 varieties of tomatoes. This spring, it will double its 40,000-square-foot growing area with a second location in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

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Ford Dearborn Truck Plant
green roofs for healthy cities
Most Industrial
Ford dearborn truck Plant; Dearborn, Mich.
This factory in Ford’s River Rouge complex, just outside Detroit, is carpeted with greenery that reduces heating and cooling demand by 5 percent. The 10.4-acre site was designated the largest industrial green roof on Earth.

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Vancouver Convention Centre
green roofs for healthy cities
Most unique
Vancouver Convention Centre; Vancouver, British Columbia
Jutting over the waterfront at Coal Harbour, this geometric puzzle is the largest nonindustrial green roof in North America, and it helped the facility become the first convention center to earn a LEED Platinum rating — the highest grade for green buildings.

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High Line
high line
Most Walkable
High Line, New York City
In addition to being the longest green roof in the U.S., Manhattan’s spectacular High Line may also be the nation’s most visited. Each day, thousands walk the 1.45-mile-long former train track that runs through Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. A third and final section of the line awaits rehabilitation.