Benefits Of A Green Roof

Green roofs or Living Roofs are starting to take hold in America. For very good reason, too. They benefit the environment as much as they do your home, while being a natural thing of beauty in the process. Appearing in Germany as early as the 1940s, these roofs aren’t just limited to the patches of Sod you might see in a British TV show. So what’s all the hype about and is it worth investing in a green roof for your own home?

What Are They?

Green roofs are roofs that have been specially designed and cultivated for harboring plant life. Like with any roof, green roofs must be built specifically to support the type of green roof being installed. Wait. There are types of green roofs? It isn’t just a bunch of grass on a roof? Nope! You can choose between an extensive or intensive roof. The difference being the type of vegetation and the amount of maintenance it will require once installed.

Extensive roofs are the lower maintenance options with more drought-ready plants that don’t need much tending or watering to thrive. Intensive roofs are the opposite, often boasting beautiful blooms and small trees or a produce garden on their flat surfaces. How do you choose? The climate where you live will be the biggest factor. Next is whether you’re building from scratch or converting the roof of an already built house, whether you want access to it or you simply want to admire it from afar. Talk with a certified green roof expert to decide what’s right for you and your home.

What Do They Do?

So glad you asked. Green roofs do a whole lot. Yes, they improve the beauty of your home (talk about upping your curb appeal) by providing an alluring oasis of flowers and grasses, but they do so much more than that. The first way they benefit your home is by reducing the amount of energy it takes to heat and cool your house. Green roofs are impeccable insulators helping to keep your house at just the right temperature year-round. Not only that, but they reflect less heat back into the environment, which makes these types of roofs perfect for densely populated cities with more buildings than nature.

What’s the first thing you learned about plants and trees in science class? They take in carbon dioxide that pollutes our air and convert it into oxygen. By creating a green roof, you’re supplying more power to sequester the carbon man puts out reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the environment.

Vegetated roofs also positively affect rainwater in two ways. Stormwater runoff from most buildings just runs right off the roof, and in many cases, add to flooding in more urban areas. But with a living roof with plants and grasses, the whole process is slowed down as the plants soak up the water – and in dryer areas, storing that water for later drought seasons. The second amazing thing these plants and their soil do is improve the water quality. As they absorb water they also break down pollutants which helps cut back on erosion and the amount of sediment further downstream.

Lastly, these roof provide biodiversity in your community. When a plot of land gets bought and cleared away for a new shopping center or apartment complex, any sort of land “development” really, the habitats for smaller animals and insects are destroyed. In the same way adding a green roof adds more carbon sequestering power for the planet, it also adds more places for these important critters to live and serve the ecosystem, including the ever-important pollinating bee!

Sign Me Up?

Ranging in price from between $10 and $25 per square foot, these roofs do pay off over time. The irrigation systems put in place will make it so that once the seeds have taken root they’ll be self-regenerating and not need extra watering. But do you have the right space for it? If you have a flat roof on part of your home, go for it! If you’re building your home from scratch, definitely take advantage of the opportunity and go for it! If you manage or own multi-family or industrial buildings in the city definitely, 100%, ABSOLUTELY GO FOR IT! Urban areas are the perfect place to install a green roof. Time is running out for us to course correct the environment. And if we can find a solution while also creating a gorgeous view for ourselves then what are we waiting for?