Visit an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof.
Our living roof is more than beautiful—it's the heart of the Academy. Weather stations on the roof monitor wind, rain, and changes in temperature to help inform the building's automated systems and skylights, keeping rainforest temps just right, the interior piazza cool and comfortable, and natural light streaming to the exhibits below.
Edged by solar panels, the roof's seven hills are lined with 50,000 porous, biodegradable vegetation trays made from tree sap and coconut husks. An estimated 1.7 million plants fill the trays, their roots interlocking to create an extraordinary oasis for birds, insects, people, and other creatures.
The Power of Green
The Living Roof provides excellent insulation (reducing energy needs for heating and cooling), captures 100% of excess storm water (preventing runoff from carrying pollutants into the ecosystem), and transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen—just for starters.
Fields of Flowers
Native plants such as beach strawberry, California fuchsia, and dudleyas provide much-needed habitat and food for birds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial animals—and add up to the densest concentration of native wildflowers in San Francisco.
Architect Renzo Piano's vision for the Academy is perhaps most perfectly expressed by the living roof. The goal, as he described it, was to "lift up a piece of the park and put a building under" — to blend seamlessly into Golden Gate's natural setting.
An Outdoor Classroom
From stargazing and eclipse watches to close investigations of the much-smaller world of bees, the Living Roof offers a range of programs and learning opportunities that offer new ways to experience the natural world.
The Academy is the world’s first Double Platinum LEED-certified museum, and the largest Double Platinum building on the planet. Explore our ongoing efforts to make our building—and our practices—more sustainable every day.