If asked to choose between the traditional roof covering materials like shingles, tiles, cedar shakes, etc. and plants that create soothing foliage as roof cover, many people would opt for the latter for reasons of eco-friendliness. As the modern lifestyle keeps building up carbon footprints at an alarming rate, green roofs provide a unique opportunity to reduce it and the reason behind its popularity. Modern builders are keen to address the environmental problems and inclined to install green roofs which revive very old memories of the Vikings exploring the North Atlantic region when they built grass-covered sod homes wherever they went. Therefore, the concept of green roof is nothing new except that today it has become instrumental in dealing with the environmental distress that surrounds and gives hope of improving it.
The low environmental impact of modern green roofs is driving more and more homeowners towards it. The modern technology of green roof originated in Germany in the late eighties and soon spread across Europe and America, and today, anyone with the good intention of improving the environment can install a green roof. It is not always necessary to create new homes with the green roof because it is possible to retrofit the roof even in existing homes say the experts at Storm Pros Roofing Columbus.
Types of green roof
A standard green roof consists of five basic layers that begin with the roof deck upon which are the other layers of waterproof membrane and soil filter fabric that supports several layers of lightweight soil mix on which is planted drought-resistant plants. There are two types of green roof – an extensive green roof and an intensive green roof.
Extensive green roof – A humble looking low profile green roof that is more for functional purpose with limited access to homeowners is what comprises extensive green roof. The primary purpose of the roof is to produce a green cover in the most basic form and consists of a 3-inch deep soil mixture that helps the greenery to grow upon it. This green roof is much lighter and costs less. Planting an only limited variety of plants that are just enough to create the green cover with very little maintenance helps to make both ends meet. Sedums that have water-storing leaves and can cover the ground while maintaining low height is the most preferred plant for installing an extensive green roof.
Intensive green roof – Imagine a complete roof garden, and it will be easy to understand what intensive green roof means. Being a full-fledged garden on the roof, this type of roof has a wider variety of plants. The rooftop consists of the soil mixture of considerable depth to facilitate the planting of the vegetation. The depth of the soil mixture can be at least 8 inches and can even go up as much as 15 feet depending on the plants chosen and the kind of load that the architecture can support. Intensive green roofs provide additional living space as people can spend time on the roof just as they would do in the garden. Outdoor living becomes more interesting when you have a garden above your head that also protects the home in many ways.
Not only homeowners but the community also benefits from green roofs that improve the environment by reducing the pollution load. The economic benefits of green roofs are many as you will come to know from this article.
Less heating and cooling costs
Covering the roof with a garden means that the sunrays do not touch the basic roof surface that remains covered with vegetation and plants, thereby reducing the heat load of the building considerably. The green cover acts like an excellent insulator that allows holding of heat within the home during winter and prevent heat from entering the home during summer. Studies have shown that homes can typically save up to 50% of the heat lost through convection. Another study in Canada confirms that the reduction in the use of the air conditioning system can be as much as 75% during the spring and summer.
Less rainwater goes to the drain
A green roof collects 40% of rainwater through absorption, and it even acts as a filter as the plant, root system and soil filter out the pollutants in rainwater gathered from the environmental air so that the final water flowing out from the roof is much cleaner. The rainwater run-off from green roofs starts after 45 minutes from the time it starts raining because only after the soil layer saturates that excess water flows into the drain. This is a blessing for the overburdened municipal drainage system that often finds handling large volumes of water too much challenging.
More oxygen and reduced carbon dioxide in the air
Plants on the roof liberate oxygen during the process of photosynthesis and at the same time suck carbon dioxide from the air to aid the process. It means that the plants provide cleaner air, and more plants mean a larger volume of clean air. On average, residential green roofs produce more oxygen than a family consumes annually, and it goes up with the size of the roof.
Low urban heat island effect
The temperature of the developed areas rises due to the removal of plants and vegetation that make way for building structures that display development. The conversion of landscapes into hardscapes not only increases the average temperature but also increase the smog levels that lead to various health problems besides necessitating more use of cooling machines. Green roofs can effectively counter the urban heat island effect by lowering the temperature of the surrounding.
Maintain ecological balance
Green roofs help to maintain balance in the ecological system by encouraging biodiversity while providing additional outdoor living space for homeowners. The greenery attracts many birds and insects that had lost its habitat due to mass urbanization that can find shelter and food in the new setting, which is like an oasis among extensive concrete structures.
The layer of vegetation on the roof protects the decking and waterproofing materials from sunlight and extreme temperatures thereby enhancing the life of the roof substrates.