Change Your Home One Step at a Time

Change Your Home One Step at a Time

Is A Green Roof A Smart Investment?

by Aiden Carroll

There are many things you can do to reduce you're business' impact on the environment, and one of those is to install a green roof. Also known as living roofs, green roofs incorporate plants and vegetation into the design that provide a myriad of benefits to your business and the environment. Here's more information about this type of roofing to help you decide if it's right for your building.

How Green Roof Systems are Designed

It may seem like an impossible feat, but putting a live garden on the roof of your commercial building is possible. These roofs typically feature a layered design that includes stacked levels for waterproofing and drainage and a barrier to prevent roots from penetrating through the roof itself.

Though green roofs are customized to fit the building's needs, each design falls into one of three general categories:

  • Intensive – These roofs support 80+ pounds of plants per square foot and can have a depth of 24 inches or more. These types of green roofs require the most amount of maintenance but can host the widest variety of greenery. It's ideal for creating rooftop gardens and parks.
  • Semi-Intensive – This type of system can support 25 to 40 pounds per square foot of plants and provides between 5 to 7 inches of depth for roots. It requires a moderate amount of upkeep and is good for use as a habitat for birds and other fauna.
  • Extensive – This type of green roof requires the least amount of maintenance but can only hold 15 to 25 pounds of plants per square foot and provides the shallowest depth at 3 to 5 inches. It's best for managing storm water.

There are also modular systems that provide an easy way to remove the plants so you can repair or replace the roof without having to completely tear out the plants. Systems for flat and pitched roofs are also available.

Benefits of Green Roofs

The primary benefit of a green roof is its ability to manage temperatures inside and outside the building.  First, the plants provide a measure of insulation that can reduce heating requirements during cold months. It moderates the amount of heat that flows through to the building, which can also decrease the need for air conditioning during warm months.

Second, green roofs can mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect. Because of the sheer number of buildings in the area, their proximity to each other and the reduction in the amount of greenery in the area, urban spaces tend to have higher than average temperatures. This is particularly true when the buildings have dark roofs, which absorbs heat during the day and releases it into the atmosphere at night. This causes urban dwellers to use more air conditioning to keep the spaces cool.

The greenery provided by living roofs helps keep the outdoors cool by using evaporation and evapotranspiration to reduce surrounding air temperatures. The New York Heat Island Initiative conducted a modeling experiment on the city and found that outfitting 50 percent of the roofs with greenery can result in a savings of 495 million KWh of energy per year.

Other benefits of green roofs include:

  • Reducing the amount of surface water runoffs, which can minimize the risk of flash floods.
  • Combating air pollution. Plants naturally filter airborne particles from the air, which can alleviate disease.
  • Increasing biodiversity by providing spaces for birds and wildlife to hang out.
  • Improving water quality. The plants clean water the same way it cleans the air, allowing for the possibility of directly harvesting rainwater for use.

Disadvantages of Green Roofs

While the benefits of livings roofs are significant, there are also critical disadvantages to these systems. First, these types of roofs tend to be heavy, so you will have to ensure the building and existing roof can withstand the extra weight. This may require you to made costly upgrades to the building's structure.

These roofs require some level of maintenance depending on which system you get. This means either taking time to care for the flora yourself or paying a service to do it for you. Additionally, it may be difficult to access the roof to make repairs because the plants are in the way.

Another issue is insurance companies may not be willing to insure your building because of the perceived increased fire risk. Standard roofs are typically made using fire retardant materials that help prevent the spread of fire from one building to the next. Plants, however, have no such protection. Before investing in a green roof, you should contact your insurance provider to determine if your policy will cover this type of roofing.

It can cost anywhere from $15 to $35 per square foot to install a green roof on your commercial building. Though this may represent a significant investment, a green roof can cut your energy bills by up to 50 percent. For more information about green roofs, click here for more info or contact a knowledgeable roofing contractor in your area.


About Me

Change Your Home One Step at a Time

The best way to handle major home renovations is to take them one step at a time. Instead of trying to change your whole home at once, start small. I started with the guest bathroom, then the guest bedroom, then moved on to my kids’ rooms, my bedroom, and the living room. Now I’m working on remodeling the kitchen. I started this blog to help other people who are attempting major home renovations. I’ll show you how to change your whole home by breaking it up into manageable chunks. Wondering which kitchen counters are right for you, or how to add more space to your bedroom? We’ll go over the pros and cons of different materials and discuss DIY renovation projects. Before you know it, you’ll have created your dream home.