Green Roofs

aerial photography of city buildings
Photo by ankiyay on

The Basics

Recently I’ve been working on a project at my job – How much energy could we save if we changed our building’s roof to a green roof? Answer: I don’t know. That would require a lot of math which I don’t have the energy to calculate. But I did learn some stuff on the way to giving up. For instance: Changing up your roof adds oxygen to the air and attracts wildlife. The insulation of the soil will lower costs of air conditioning and heating throughout the year in addition to reducing reflected sunlight. A green roof could even last longer than a normal roof. Although green roof surgery is expensive for pre-existing buildings, if you visit the Green Roof Incentive Page there’s a list of existing programs that will fund your green roof. Why? They save storm water runoff from flooding your town’s drainage system which will save the town more in the long run. You can receive up to $1.80 per square foot of federal tax credits for green building projects. That means that green roofs are just one method of many that could save you and the town money. And they aren’t just for Fortune 500 companies. You can have a green roof added to your own house!

The Downside

A green roof requires regular maintenance. There must be inspection boxes installed or the drains and gutters need to be manually cleared. Snow must be removed very carefully in order not to damage vegetation. There are many different types of green roofs: 1. Normal Green Roof 2. Extensive 3. Intensive or 4. Semi-Intensive. The first has a waterproof layer, root barrier, drainage system, and growing medium. It’s the simplest option. The second is a thinner, lighter version that uses sedum to grow plants on. It can be installed flat or on a slope. The third type is accessible by foot, contains larger plants, and has unique water features. Last, the Semi-Intensive Green Roof is the same as the Intensive but it can contain a variety of plant species and includes native grasses and flowers. Care for the roofs depend on the plants grown and local climate. EPA estimates the overall cost of a green roof including maintenance ranges from 10 to 25 dollars per square foot. Some of the oldest green roofs in the world are in Germany and have existed since the 1930’s. Very pretty way to provide a habitat for birds and insects losing their homes due to building construction!

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