During my recent visit to the Urban Land Institute’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to catch up with Commercial Property Executive about some interesting new trends cropping up in office spaces—including rooftop gardens. I also spoke with them about valet bicycle parking and office space in the era of unbranding; you can watch the video above to get my thoughts on those trends.

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There are two factors contributing to the rooftop garden trend: an increased pull towards sustainability and conservation, and more freedom for workers to modify their workspace as they see fit. Rooftop gardens aren’t exactly new, but they are gaining momentum for offices. While the most obvious benefits are the herbs and vegetables produced, there is far more to the phenomenon.

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Rooftop gardens can reduce carbon emissions and energy costs by providing insulation to the building. They can increase property value and are aesthetically pleasing, and make a place for stormwater to go other than a city’s sewer system…something that many cities with a lot of rainfall may struggle with.

Efficiency, waste reduction, and fresh veggies may appeal to the eco-centrically minded, but green rooftops have a community benefit, too. Rooftop gardens have the potential to strengthen office community and build up engagement. Many commercial properties with gardens have allowed employees to form gardening clubs, which allow coworkers to mingle and collaborate.

Cities are undertaking the greenification of their rooftops with gusto, and offices actively engaging their coworkers in gardening make a statement about the shift in expectations for our workplaces. We should all be keeping an eye out for these kinds of changes around us.

A mentor, a real estate executive and a mom, Karen spends time all over the map. If she isn’t traveling, Karen is busy with everything from IREM to Virginia Tech’s Real Estate program. When she has a few minutes to spare, she considers it a personal mission to find new homes for all of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue’s four-legged companions.