Ever heard of green roofs?

Search the Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database!By Robyn Burnett

With environmental concerns being foremost in many people’s minds, it’s no wonder that the notion of green roofs is being embraced by many. From commercial buildings to private homes, green roofs provide an opportunity to not only support the environment, but also come with other benefits for those who choose to get in on the trend.

What are they?
Essentially, a “green roof” is a rooftop that is either partially or completely covered with plant life. In some cases, this rooftop garden is well tended, providing individuals with a park-like environment. These green roofs are intensive, requiring regular maintenance. In other cases, the roof acts as a “living” structure. These extensive green roofs require less maintenance and tend to be much lighter, full of self-sufficient mosses and plants.

How does your roof become “green”?
For the more extensive green roof systems, panelled layers are placed on the present roof that include their own drainage system and filter cloth, as well as a root repellent system. Each roof installation is unique to the environment where it is being created. These living organisms can be purchased in pre-grown panels also and can be adaptable to a whole range of different plants including herbs. Imagine: your roof or wall becomes your very own herb garden! Intensive green roofs may require more effort, but there are also rewards. In Vancouver, the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel’s intensive green roof grows fresh vegetables alongside the herbs and flowers, saving thousands of dollars in produce costs. In all cases, the natural element on the roof provides a whole range of benefits for both the community and the atmosphere.

What are the benefits?
Let’s face it; a regular roof doesn’t really provide much to anyone. In a congested city, what better way to actually provide more oxygen than by adding more green? Having the natural element on the top of buildings helps to clean up the air, as well as acting as a natural habitat. Many green roofs have been designed to mimic various endangered ecosystems as a way of supporting this. Green roofs also provide storm water management, thus helping with waterproofing. They also provide insulation, cutting down the intense summer heat by keeping your house cool, as well as keeping in that valuable heat in the wintertime. Also, these natural roofs actually help with soundproofing. Thanks to the plants and soil, the layer of air trapped underneath actually blocks lower sound waves. And, of course, they are far more attractive than standard roofs. And what a wonderful way for employees to take a break and de-stress: in a private corporate garden. For companies with day-care facilities, or that encourage physical fitness or recreation, a green roof offers fabulous opportunities.

How much?
While the initial costing of green roofs might seem high, care and maintenance of regular gravel roofs can actually end up costing more. Not only that, but the green roof system almost doubles the lifespan of the present roof. Pricing varies from intensive to extensive roof gardens, and also varies based on the plant life chosen. Considering all the cost reduction on heating, cooling and roof repair, a green roof can actually be a smart investment.

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