When you hear the term “green roof,” you might assume that you know exactly what it means—a roof that uses green technology to be more energy efficient or environmentally friendly. But while green roofs do embody these characteristics, what you might not expect is that they are literally green with plant growth.
A green roof is a roof covered in grasses and other plants, designed to provide a host of benefits to the building’s energy efficiency, minimize the impact on the health of the environment, and the increase the overall enjoyment people can get from the structure if the roof is accessible.
If you’re looking to retrofit your roof, or if you’re interested in ways to save energy and reduce your environmental footprint, green roofs are a good option to look into. Here are the basics you need to know when considering a green roof.
INTENSIVE AND EXTENSIVE GREEN ROOFS
Green roofs are generally divided into two categories, intensive and extensive, which differ in the roles they play and the variety of functions they can serve.
Intensive green roofs are essentially rooftop gardens. With complex irrigation, drainage, and structural support systems, they can support flower beds, shrubs, trees, walkways, and benches. It’s practically a complete park right on the roof, making use of a commonly disused space to provide animals habitats and people a place to relax for a bit without ever leaving the building.
Extensive green roofs, by contrast, don’t serve these functions and are put in place primarily for ecological and cost-saving reasons. Since they use native ground cover which is much lighter than the foot or more of growing medium required for intensive green roofs, they require less maintenance, are much lighter, and cost less.
There are also semi-intensive and mixed systems which combine aspects of intensive and extensive green roofing. The most prominent example of this in the Chicagoland area is the ROOFTOP GARDEN ON CHICAGO CITY HALL.
BENEFITS OF GREEN ROOFS
Because green roofs have relatively high installation costs compared to other kinds of roofs, with simpler extensive roofing starting at $10 PER SQUARE FOOT and intensive roofing starting at $25 PER SQUARE FOOT, owners may first be apprehensive about green roofs and want to know more about them before committing.
However, these startup costs are offset by the massive savings in energy costs and maintenance that green roofs bestow. Because a green roof provides superior insulation, it can DRASTICALLY CUT YOUR ENERGY COSTS. And since green roofs do such a good job of protecting the roof membrane from UV radiation and harsh weather, they LAST TWICE AS LONG, reducing replacement costs as well.
Green roofs are also beneficial in the larger scope as well. Not are they better at maintaining stable temperatures in your home, but the plants absorb sunlight and cool the air around them in a process called evapotranspiration. This mitigates the effects of HEAT ISLANDS, a term used to describe the heat that builds up on manmade surfaces and results in extreme heat fluctuations in more urban areas, like when you walk through a parking lot where the heat seems to be radiating from the pavement. Because green roofs create cooler locales, some cities even offer incentives for installing green roofs.
And of course, beyond the financial benefits, there are also the environmental benefits. In addition to the reduced greenhouse gas emissions provided by lower energy usage, green roofs also generate oxygen and can provide habitats for birds and other wildlife. They also trap rainwater, letting the plants soak it up and releasing the rest gradually, reducing water runoff and sewer overflows.
Overall, a green roof is a solid choice to consider for reasons of economy, environmental responsibility, and beauty. If you’re thinking about this or other types of roofing for your own building, though, you’ll need a contractor you can trust who can answer your questions. If you’d like a consultation or free quote, feel free to CONTACT US WITH YOUR INFO or give us a call at 844-736-6961. We’re always happy to discuss your next project.