Green Roofs: The Future Of Sustainable Living

Green Roofs: The Future Of Sustainable Living


Installing a green roof can provide many advantages that will not only save you money, but also provide you with healthy fresh produce.

The installation of a green roof on your home can have many benefits including:

Better stormwater management and less stormwater runoff.

Green roofs can intercept between 15% and 90% of rooftop runoff, absorbing this runoff into root systems on your roof. The absorption rate depends on the type of growing medium and plant cover used.

Green roofs reduce the need for energy to heat a house in the winter and cool it in the summer. The vegetation layer and trapped air help to insulate the interior of the building. This can provide up to 25% additional insulation when the soil is dry or slightly moist. The plants natural evapotranspiration process leads to a cooler roof surface in the summer. The plant surface can also reduce heat loss by 50% during the winter.

If installed correctly, green roofs can extend the life of a conventional roof by a factor of three times. Green roofs can protect the roof surface from UV light, large temperature fluctuations, and the normal wear and tear associated with exposed roof surfaces.


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Green roofs can incorporate that can supply you with fresh, healthy produce. Correct plant selections can favor habitat creation by utilizing appropriate threatened native species. Various crops can also provide food for birds and favorable insects.

Green roofs provide pleasant smells, sights, and sounds that promote a healthy social environment, especially in urban areas.

Plant photosynthesis can reduce the negative impact of carbon dioxide while also producing oxygen. Plants can help filter out airborne pollutants and keep the air around your house clean.

Green roofs are also good sound insulators and they reduce the impact of noise to areas bellow the roof and within the house.

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Material and Installation

Analyze your structure

The first step you must take when choosing the correct design for your green roof, is consult an architect. It is important to work with someone who is already familiar with the requirements of green roof technology. The first task of the company will be to determine the structural soundness of the building and its roof.

Design plan development

Once a professional has analyzed the structure of your house, a design plan must be developed. Design aspects should include:

Specific goals for the green roof to achieve.

A plant plan and plant list that includes hardy native shallow rooted plants. This plan should take into account building orientation and local climate conditions.

Place any irrigation system required beyond normal rainfall to support roof vegetation. Drip-irrigation is preferred.

The characteristics of the plants that will be planted on your rood are very important:

Using a variety of plants increases the success rate of establishing a self-maintaining green roof.

It is always a good idea to choose a low growth plants with fibrous root systems.

Plants that require no special nutrients or watering conditions will allow you the freedom of doing minimal garden work on your roof.


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In areas prone to acid rain, a buffer of thin soil can keep your roof safe.

If you live in a dry area choose hardy, drought resistant plants.

Do not plant windblown seeds that can invade other gardens.

If you are planning on having an intensive green roof structure:

Give yourself a work area for production of mulch and for composting.

Provide space that is accessible for social activity.

Provide habitat for desirable urban birds and insects.

Construction Material

There are a number of modular systems available:

These systems are made up of individual plastic modulars, interlocking containers that are about two square feet and loaded with a drainage system, a growing medium, and vegetation prior to placement. They are also normally quick to install.

These systems are ideal for extensive green roofs, yet, deeper modules make the system adaptable to intensive green roofs. The growing medium is an engineered product that contains natural soil, modular growing medium depths can vary between 2-18 inches deep.

These systems are lightweight and normally weigh about 12-50 pounds per square foot when fully saturated.

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The modules can normally be placed on existing roof surfaces. Individual modules can be removed and replaced allowing quick repair or rotated for seasonal effect.

These can be installed at any time of the year because the modules are pre-planted. Since the plantings are established prior to installation, there is a high level of success.

They must be watered and weeded for the first year. In areas prone to acid rain, the application of buffering compounds can be required to prevent acidification of thin soils.

Built-In-Place systems are the classical and most common green roof systems found:

These systems are best for intensive green roofs.

These structures require detailed design plans and a long installation period in order to accommodate the sequenced incorporation of garden materials and landscape.


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These structures require plants to be pre-established in pots for one to two years prior to installation.

These structures must have a growing medium that is soil based with a depth of at least 4 to 8 inches.

These structures normally have a weight of 40 to 200 pounds per square foot when fully saturated. Because of this, your base may require additional structural support.

You can provide for a display of a diverse plant selection while also incorporating public space.

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Materials are deployed on the roof in a series o layers in the following sequences:

Structural roof support

Waterproof and root repellent membrane(s)


Drainage, aeration, water storage, and a root barrier system

A lightweight growing medium that is not necessarily soil based

Collection of specialized mix of plants with an ability to survive harsh environmental conditions at the roof top.

The installations of green roofs can sometimes be eligible for tax relief, energy conservation credits, and lower storm water charges from municipalities. Check with your local regulations to see what the building laws are.

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