Green Roofs Are a Fast-Growing Trend

This green roof in Germany is a perfect example of how more buildings are becoming sustainable.

Matt Smith
Special Contributor

As in fashion, there are also some popular trends in the roofing industry. Sustainability is one, and in the next year, homeowners across the planet will be building new homes, and each will need a well-constructed, functional, aesthetically correct roof. If the roof is made of eco-friendly material – even better!

Sustainability went from the margins to the mainstream big time during past few years. It is nothing new, yet it is growing more popular. The idea of being energy independent, spending less on electricity, and reducing the level of carbon emission seems like a triple win situation.

You don’t have to be clairvoyant to see that when building roofs, constructors will be inspired by nature in 2018. The emphasis will be on the green building materials and the style which imitates the artwork of one of the world’s top designers – Mother Nature. Solar panels and living green roofs will become a much more common sight.

Green: a New Color in Roofing

Just imagine how nice it would be to have vegetation and living plants growing on the top of your house. What a beautiful and cool scenery it would be! Good news is that your imagination can easily turn to reality. The idea to use plants on roofs is nothing new. Remember one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” the hanging gardens of Babylon? Well, basically these were green or so-called living roofs, and a jaw-dropping gorgeous sight for the eyes.

In the last 50 years, roofs that have been planted with greenery are gaining popularity all over the world. The big cities in the U.S. such as Washington, Chicago, and Portland are offering incentives to install green roofs. They are widely used in Germany. A partial reason for that is the integration of green roofing in the country’s regulations. Providing grants and incentives helps people to start-up their green roofing projects. However, in the United Kingdom, there has been a lack of government support to living roofs, which resulted with less green on the top of the buildings.

What Are Green Roofs?

There are two basic types of green roofs – intensive and extensive living roofs. The main difference is in the type of plants incorporated on the roofs and the differences in their maintenance. Plants incorporated on the intensive living roofs are usually between 1 to 15 feet high and they require constant irrigation and maintenance. Plants for the extensive living roofs are 2 to 6 inches high and they don’t require ongoing maintenance. Extensive living roofs are more suitable for any kind of roof – houses, balconies, commercial buildings, garages, and more.

This green roof in Canada is easy to maintain and offers a longer lifespan than typical roofs.

How Are Living Roofs Made?

They consist of a layer that serves as protection of the roof and the building. Those layers imitate natural processes. There is a waterproof layer, a filter which allows water to drain, a membrane which prevents roots to go through the roof, moisture blanket which holds the water needed for plants, a drainage system, soil, seeds, and finally plants. Commonly used plants are perennials, stonecrop, and wildflowers. In general, plants planned for rooftops should require low nutrients, irrigation, and maintenance, be allergen-free, native, low growing, and drought-tolerant. They grow on the soil which should hold the water to feed the plants. Once grown, plants attract bees, birds, and various wildlife, which makes a green roof building a true biodiversity paradise.

Two in One: Beauty And Efficiency

Green roofs are not only pretty as Monet’s painting — installation of green roofs has many economic, environmental, and social benefits. They increase reduction of carbon emissions, the reduction of urban temperatures and nasty city smog, mitigation of climate change, cleaning toxins from air and water, preservation and enhancement of biodiversity, increasing home efficiency and roof lifespan … and living roofs make the community a greener and thus a more beautiful place to live.

Many houses and building owners are searching for the ways to save money by reducing energy bills. Green roofs could be helpful in achieving this goal and it has been proven that their installation can impact positively on building’s energy consumption. Green roofs improve roofs thermal performance, but the level of improvement will depend on the seasonal and daily weather conditions of a certain location. They can lower the need for artificial cooling during the hot summer days and a necessity of excessive heating during the winter. However, green roofs thermal performance will depend on the amount of water which gets held in the roof substrate. Water has a negative effect on the thermal roof’s performance. In humid climates such as UK’s, building owners won’t be as successful in reducing their energy bills as those lucky guys living in an area without too much rainfall and damp.

Another buck-saving fact is that a green roof’s lifespan is longer than a typical one. Ultra-violet light is constantly attacking your roof without any mercy. Temperature changes throughout the year can have a negative effect on your roof. Life expectancy of a gravel roof is approximately 15 to 25 years, and the calculated life expectancy of a green roof can be more than 40 years, even doubled. Green roofs help to mediate temperature differences fluctuations which are annually reduced from 100°C to only 35° C and daily from 60°C to only 15°C. Green roofs also provide protection from UV radiation, ozone, wind, hail, and more.

Making your roof green is a cool thing to do in 2018! Just imagine … flowers blooming, grasses growing, birds singing enchanting melodies on the top of your own roof! It is trendy, amazing, economical, and naturally protective.

What more can one ask? Green is in.

Matt Smith works for Choice Roofs, a residential roofing company based in Oklahoma City, Okla. He can be reached at matt@choiceroofs.com.

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