What Makes the 9/11 Memorial So Earth-Friendly?

Aerial view of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on a spring day, with all the oak trees on the plaza in bloom.
Photo by Jin S. Lee

This Earth Day we look to highlight and celebrate the 9/11 Memorial plaza, which was designed to conserve energy, water, and other resources and was conceived as one of the most sustainable plazas ever constructed.

Rainwater is collected in storage tanks below the plaza’s surface, and the tanks supply water for the more than 400 swamp white oak trees and other vegetation. The American Society of Landscape Architects describes the 9/11 Memorial as a “massive green roof—a fully constructed ecology—that operates on top of multiple structures.”

The most notable tree on the 9/11 Memorial plaza is known as the Survivor Tree. This Callery pear tree endured the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center and was found at Ground Zero in October 2001 severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches.

The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation where, after years of recovery and rehabilitation, it was returned to the Memorial in 2010. In contrast to the plaza’s swamp white oaks, the Survivor Tree is the only tree of its kind and always the first to bloom in spring and the last to lose its leaves in autumn.

Read more about the sustainable design of the 9/11 Memorial plaza.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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