The Benefits of a Green Roof

Green Architect

Having a yard is great, but a lot of us don't have the luxury of extra space in front or behind our buildings. So, imagine all the untapped real estate that could be used to grow flowers, vegetables and even trees — on our roofs. Here's why it's a good idea:

Last week we talked about why replacing your standard asphalt or concrete driveway with permeable paving is good for the environment and your home. Replacing conventional roofing materials with vegetation is good for many of the same reasons:

An Extended Roof Life: A roof covered with all that vegetation will actually last longer than a convential roof, primarily because it's shielded from damaging UV rays. While green roofing might be more expensive upfront, it can have a lower life-cycle cost.

Increased Building Insulation: Whether you use an intensive or extension green roof system, the added layer of soil and vegetation will increase the insulation level of your house, which is important at the roof. It will help keep your home cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and thus reduce your HVAC use and energy loads.

Reduced Heat Island Effect: By eliminating the dark asphalt roofing and replacing it with vegetation, you're improving the microclimate of your home and property. Natural materials will help moderate and stabilize their surroundings.

Reduced Runoff: On conventional hard surfaces, such as roofing and paving, water is unable to soak in and runs off, which results in eroded landscaping and overwhelmed storm sewer systems. A green roof is able to mitigate these issues by absorbing, filtering, and cleaning water and air of pollutants. This water can naturally irrigate the plants, and any extra can be collected in a cistern or rain barrel.

Natural Habitat: In addition to creating a place to grow plants, flowers and vegetables, green roofs also provide a great habitat for wildlife, including birds, bees and butterflies.

Check out these posts for more details on types of green roofs and how they work:
4 Eco-Friendly Roof Options
Green Your Drainage: Vegetated Roofs
How to Shop for a Green Roof
PlantTherapy: Practical Talk on Green Roofs
How Do Green Roofs Work?
How to Start a Green Roof Garden

MORE GREEN ROOFS ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
Water Not Required: Green Roof Blocks
Modular Green Roofs
Living It Up: Rooftop Gardens and Green Roofs

(Image: Ben Rahn/A-Frame via Inhabitat)