Posted by on Jul 5, 2016 in Fresh Trends, Green Roof

Green Roof Benefits – 20 Reasons to Have a Green Roof

Article by Erisa Nesimi

In this article we explore green roof benefits, looking at 20 reasons why you should have a green roof.

If I am to define green roofs, I would like to describe them as: ‘tools to reinvent our cities’. Also known by the term “living roofs”, they stand for a counteraction to the fast urbanization of our cities.

As a result of urbanization and technology, we are left with cities which are often non- enjoyable environments. Sometimes considered as a pile of concrete (concrete jungles), we have the duty to come up with ways to make our cities great again. Why green roofs? What are their benefits?

I’m quite sure that a lot of you out there are very tired of hearing such a cliché phrase again and again; “we should have more green roofs”. Nevertheless, is this just a buzzword? Do green roofs help, and if yes, how?

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20 Green Roof Benefits

1. New Amenity Spaces

Even if we do not consider the environmental benefits, green roofs will certainly re-create the lost connection we have with public space. Community gardens, recreational spaces, and places to meet and relax will improve the social life of people living nearby.

Green Roof Benefits

ASLA Green Roof. Image courtesy of Conservation Design Forum

2. Aesthetic Improvement

There is a raising awareness about the fact that our cities have become this huge pile of ugly, gray concrete. What if we say there is a light at the end of the tunnel? With very few interventions, green roofs can help make our cities aesthetically pleasing.

Green Roof Benefits

Chicago Green Roof. Photo credit: Mark Farina

3. Stormwater Management

Green roofs help in reducing the amount of stormwater runoff. This results in decreased pressure on sewer systems at peak flow periods. With green roofs, water is stored by the substrate and then taken up by the plants. From there, it returns to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration.

In summer, green roofs retain 70-90% of the precipitation that falls on them; in winter they retain between 25-40%. A grass roof with a 4-20 cm (1.6 – 7.9 inch) layer of growing medium can hold 10-15 cm (3.9 – 5.9 inches) of water. (http://www.greenroofs.org) How does this work?

WATCH >>> Here is a video to illustrate better: Green Roofs: The LiveRoof Difference

4. Improved Air Quality

It is obvious that more green areas equals better air quality. The plants on green roofs can capture airborne pollutants as well as filter harmful gases. The temperature-moderating effects of green roofs can reduce demand on power plants, and potentially decrease the amount of CO2 being released into the air.

7. Improves Health and Well-being

This is both in terms of physical and psychological health. Plants and green areas mitigate air and water pollution whilst in psychological aspects, they can serve as community hubs that increase social cohesion and public safety.

WATCH >>> News Flash: Carlisle’s Roof Garden

8. Raising the Value of the Buildings

A green roof can increase a building’s marketability. They are an easily identifiable symbol of the green movement and can act as an incentive to those interested in the benefits offered by green roofs. Having a green roof raises the price of the properties in the real estate market.

9. Noise Reduction

Green roofs have excellent noise reduction properties. An extensive green roof can reduce sound from outside by 40 decibels, while an intensive one can reduce sound by 46-50 decibels (Peck et al. 1999).

Green Roof Benefits

Comturey-Keller green roof. Image courtesy of ZinCo

10. Biodiversity & Wildlife

This is done not only by sustaining a variety of plants and invertebrates, but also providing a habitat for birds. They can also act as a habitat for migrating species.

5. Energy Efficiency

Green roofs offer insulation which reduces the amount of energy needed to moderate the temperature of a building, as roofs are the cause of the greatest heat loss in the winter and the greatest temperature gain in the summer.

6. Reduction of Electromagnetic Radiation

With technological advancements, we are faced with new challenges. The risk posed by electromagnetic radiation (from wireless devices and mobile communication) to human health is still a question for debate. Green roofs are capable of reducing electromagnetic radiation penetration by a considerable amount.

13. Agricultural Products

As a site for an urban agriculture project, they can reduce a community’s carbon footprint through the creation of a local food system. People can grow vegetables and other agricultural products, serving as a community empowerment.

Green Roof Benefits

ARTICLE: A Roof Garden That’s so Good, You Might Want to Work There!. Credit: Van der Tol Hoveniers en terreininrichters bv.

11. Moderation of Urban Heat Island (Albedo Effect)

Due to the evaporation cycle, plants are able to cool cities during hot summer months and reduce the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. The light absorbed by vegetation would otherwise be converted into heat energy.

WATCH >>> Green Roofs: Saving the Planet One Building at a Time part 1

12. Waste Diversion

Green roofs can prolong the life of waterproofing membranes and even the service life of heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems.

14. Educational

Whether built on educational facilities or regular buildings, they can provide a laboratory to teach students and visitors about biology, green roof technology, and green roof benefits in general.

15. Local Job Creation

The growth of green roof market generates new job opportunities related to manufacturing, plant growth, design, installation, and maintenance.

Green Roof Benefits

One Central Park, by ASPECT | OCULUS. Photo credit: Simon Wood

16. Recycled Materials

Some of the materials used in green roofs are from recycled sources, such as the membranes and growing mediums, like crushed porous brick, which is used by some suppliers.

17. Reduced Building Maintenance Costs

Absorbing the heat from the air and keeping the building warmer during the cold winter months, while the growing medium blocks the heat during the hot summer months, considerably reduces the building owner’s costs for heating and cooling.

18. Roof Lifespan Increase

They increase a regular flat roof’s lifespan because they have an exceptionally long life span – up to 50 years. (Conventional flat roofs typically have a lifespan of 10-15 years.)

Green Roof Benefits

Inside image from Green Roof Construction: The Essential Guide. Image credit: ZinCo

19. It can Provide Natural Shading

This of course depends on the type of green roof. If there are high plants or trees (intensive green roof), they create possibilities for natural shade in summer, creating a nice environment to stay in.

20. Not Only for Homes

They can be built everywhere; on hospitals, offices, schools, shopping centers, etc.
In the prevailing trial, to object to the continuous creation of spaces which are unlivable, green roofs are one of the best tools to be used.

If any of the points mentioned above could convince you and you want to benefit from having a green roof, here is a video on how to build your own:

WATCH >>> DIY living green roof installation

What green roof benefits can you think of that weren’t on our list?

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Article by Erisa Nesimi

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