Green Roofing 101

Driven by the enthusiasm for sustainable design, green roofs (and green walls) are growing in popularity. Also called living architecture by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), the structures are both pretty and practical.

Theres an indication that the first green roofs—the Hanging Gardens of Babylon—were around in 500 BC, so its not a fading trend. That said, theres a proper way to build a green roof so dont try to simulate the experience with potted plants. Rather, think of them as a form of design that is becoming more popular as cities who want to be eco-friendly look for ways to conserve energy and protect the environment.

What is a Green Roof?

A green roof is an engineered roof with a purpose. You may also see buildings where a patio or ledge converts to get the same results as a roof, but this is usually for large edifices.

Mostly, green areas are permanent and pre-planned extensions of the roof itself. There are two ways to build them: (1) modular or (2) using component-based systems. Either way, they arent designed to grow trees with long roots but instead use specific types of greenery (like sedum plants). They also have a waterproof base and per the GRHC, include some other features such as:

Root repellant system
Drainage system
Filter cloth
A lightweight growing medium
Vegetation – there may be mandates about the type

Importantly, green roof development involves a contained green space which means that the entire roof may contain other installations like a walkway or paved surface. The latter will depend on the type of building (residential or commercial) and the amount of space set aside for the green roof. Since water-saturated soil can be heavy, each roof structure must also be engineered to bear the load.

The Many Uses of Green Roofs

Centuries past the Babylonians, the Europeans used green roofs to keep their home cool in summer and insulated in winter. These are practices which are still in effect today, though in more sophisticated ways.

For instance, a green roof can boost energy efficiency and filter pollution. For communities, they can lower the temperature in cement-laden cities (Urban Heat Island Effect) and absorb rainwater. As a result, green roofs may improve a citys overall stormwater drainage and thus help to improve its resiliency to flooding. For this reason, the laws governing green roofs may fall under the purview of a citys water department.

The Advantages of Having a Green Roof

The pleasing aesthetics of green roofs are one of many benefits. In any space, they can serve as a heavenly oasis which may amp up the value of any property. Apart from the lovely optics, green roof technology can benefit private homeowners by:

Serving as a fire retardant
Reducing the usage of heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems
Diminishing noise from outside
Bringing a tax abatement, green roof rebate, discount on water utility fees, etc.
Insulating a home

How are Green Roofs Energy Efficient?

Studies show that green roofs are energy efficient. When it rains, the rooftop plants slow the flow and remove CO2 and pollutants from the drain water. Also, […]

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