A green roof, often referred to as living roofs, garden roofs, or eco-roofs, are essentially a roof that is in part, or completely covered with a growing medium and vegetation. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, green roofs provide a number of money saving and environmental benefits.
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The presence of plants and growing media reduces the amount of solar radiation and weather reaching the roof’s surface, acting as a shield against many of the harsh conditions that wear out your roof.
Plants and growing media provide superior insulation compared to conventional roofing materials. Green roofs reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the roof’s surface. Additionally, the evaporative cooling from water retained lowers the roof surface temperature and heat influx during warm-weather months, reducing the building’s energy consumption.
Research published by the National Research Council of Canada found that an extensive green roof reduced the daily energy demand for air conditioning in the summer by over 75%.
After initial grow-in periods of typically 2 years, maintenance is minimal for extensive green roofs and typically provided by installer.
Green roofs can increase a building’s marketability. They are an easily identifiable symbol of green infrastructure and can act as an incentive to those interested in the multiple benefits offered by green roofs. Green roofs have shown to facilitate sales and lease-outs, increasee property value, ease employee recruiting as well as lower employee and tenant turnover.
Green roofs can store significant amounts of water in the growing media. This water is eventually evaporated from the soil or transpired by the plants on the roof, thus reducing the runoff entering sewer systems and waterways.
Soil and vegetation increase insulation and reduce sound transmission, thus reducing noise pollution levels both in the indoor spaces within the building and the outdoor areas surrounding rooftop.
The vegetation planted processes air pollutants and intercepts particulate matter, while the cooling effect of vegetation lessens smog formation by slowing the reaction rate of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. By reducing energy use, eco-roofs lessen the air pollution caused by electricity generation.
Evaporative cooling provided by green roofs reduces elevated temperatures in urban areas as a result of heat-absorbing surfaces such as streets and conventional roofs.
Green roofs can provide outdoor areas for people to use and enjoy. They also have the potential to foster improved community interactions that help build social capital and can also provide opportunities for urban agriculture.