A green roof, or living roof is a roof partially or completely covered with vegetation. This type of roof can be as simple as the vegetation membrane with a waterproofing one, or it may also include drainage layers, root barriers and irrigation systems.
The main and most notable advantage of having such a green roof is the interesting view of the house, and, why not, an additional relaxing area (in the case of flat roofs).
Here are some examples of how you can arrange your green roof:
Another important benefits of green roofs are:
- Storm water management (by storing it in the substrate and being used later by plants and in the end returned in the atmosphere by evaporation);
- Moderation of the urban heat island effect (through the cooling effect of water evaporation; it can also reduce the production of smog and greenhouse gas emissions);
- Improving of air quality (the plants on the green roofs can absorb and filter noxious gasses and airborne pollutants, and also control the overall production of CO2);
- Providing of new spaces for amenities and local agriculture (community gardens, commercial and recreational space);
- Creation of new local jobs and education opportunities;
- Energy efficiency (by thermally isolating the house and thus reducing the amount of energy needed to moderate the temperature inside);
- Increasing the roof’s lifespan;
- Reducing fire speed, electromagnetic radiation and noise level;
- Increasing biodiversity (by sustaining a wide variety of plants, invertebrates and bird species);
- Health and well-being improvement (through reducing pollution and improving water quality; they can also increase social cohesion, public safety and sense of community).
Like everything technology creates, green roofs also bear a set of disadvantages:
As the main disadvantage, we can mention the high initial cost of building such a roof. The structure itself, waterproofing systems and root barriers can be a little expensive.
Some other disadvantages may be:
- additional structural support needed;
- high maintenance cost depending of the type of roof used;
- not every building can bear any type of green roof;
- various demands on waterproofing systems and root barriers.
But how are these green roofs built?
Depending on the roof placement, plants, and area, there are more simple or complex types of structures, with more or less needed layers, which can be seen as follows:
Because of their complexity, green roofs can be categorized as intensive (80-150 lb of vegetation/sq ft), semi-intensive and extensive (10-25 lb/sq ft).As can be seen from these dimensions, intensive roofs can be seen as roof gardens, that require deep soil for the growth of big plants, and are pretty labor intensive. This is because they are more park-like and thus are being used as leisure areas with easy access.
On the contrary, extensive roofs are built over a thin layer of substrate; they are virtually self-sustaining and do not require much maintenance. Usually, this is the main reason they are being accessed for.
So, why not build a living roof for your home, as it brings so many benefits not only to you personally, but to the whole community?
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