Green Roofing- What is it?
In this day and age, we are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint. The carbon footprint is defined as the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product, or person. With the surge for sustainability brought on by the Green Movement, more and more people are becoming educated about the small ways in which they can reduce their impact on the planet. There are many everyday changes you can employ to reduce your carbon footprint. Some of these include recharging batteries, recycling waste, and buying locally grown food. However, for people looking to make a larger impact while simultaneously getting great pleasure from their surroundings, there is green roofing.
Green roofing is “green” in both senses of the word. These unique roofs reduce energy consumption through the addition of plants. Many different kinds of roofs on buildings of varying ages can be retrofitted to support a green roof. There are two different kinds of green roofs, extensive roofs and intensive roofs, although this is more of a sliding scale. However, any green roof will be made up of several of the same components.
All green roofs have the following:
- Waterproofing, in either single- or multi-ply
- Roof repellant
- Growing Media
- Drainage System
- Plants (naturally)
While many elements must be in place for any green roofing roof installation, several components are distinctive to either extensive or intensive roofs. In general, this includes degree of slant, level of maintenance, and weight. However, let’s take a closer look at the differences between intensive and extensive roofs.
|Degree of Maintenance||Less Maintenance||More Maintenance|
|Depth of Growing Media||2 ½ to 6 inches||Begin at 8 to 12 inches; can range up to 15 feet or more|
|Types of Plants||Succulents, flowering herbs, mosses, grasses, and other low-growing ground covering plants||Wide variety; most types of plants|
|Weight||12 to 40 lbs/sq. ft||80 to 120 lbs/sq. ft (fully saturated)|
|Degree Roof Slant||Up to slope of 30 degrees||Relatively “flat” roofs|
|Cost||$12-$25/sq. ft||$25-$40/sq. ft|
Green Roofing – General
There are many different, exciting benefits associated with green roofing. While it may not initially appear to be an avenue open to every homeowner, a surprising number of homes, office buildings, lofts, and other structures are being converted into green roofs. Transforming your roof into a green roof requires some initial roof installation; however, the benefits are incredible.
Green Roofs – Reduction in Urban Heat Island Effect and Other Benefits
Green roof installation has great potential to help individuals, as well as communities as a whole. Green roofs can help on a large scale. They can aid in the prevention of global warming by lowering the Urban Heat Island Effect. The Urban Heat Island Effect, or UHI, describes when a metropolitan area is significantly warming than the surrounding rural areas. The green roofs also improve the quality of the air, reduce glare, reduce sewer overflow rates, and absorb and filter heavy metals and pollutants. These benefits can help the community at large. In addition, there are several other wonderful benefits of green roofing.
On an individual level, green roofing installation can greatly decrease the costs of heating and cooling your home. Some studies have shown as much as a 50% reduction in cooling costs, as well as a 25% decrease in heating costs. In addition to this incredible result, green roofing installation can also double or even triple the expected life of your roof. While there is an initial cost associated with the installation of a green roof, of planning the structure, and planting the plants, many of these costs will be recouped within several years of installation. Homeowners, especially those who install intensive green roofs, love the addition of green space where none existed before. High-rise dwellers who previously had limited access to parks and other green space find green roofs a wonderful way to enjoy plant life while also reducing energy costs.
Green Roof Coatings: LEED, Energy Star, and the Cool Roof Rating Council
When undertaking green roofing installation, especially on a large scale, there are different certifications that must be received before a building can be qualified as “green.” This includes LEED, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This third-party verification system is intended to improve performance in metrics like water efficiency, improved indoor environmental quality, energy savings, and others. Clearly, green roofs aid in the performance of these metrics; some LEED certified buildings include green roofs.
Energy Star is also an important program involved in energy efficiency. This government-backed program helps both individuals and businesses achieve energy efficiency through tax credits. Purchasing Energy Star Certified products is an additional way energy-conscious organizations can improve their carbon footprint. In addition, the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) is another organization that rates roofing products for radiative properties. By using the CRRC, organizations can evaluate their roof and its energy efficiency. Even if the installation of green roofing is not possible, companies and individuals can still strive to be as energy efficient as possible. One alternative to green roofing is the white roof. Painting roofs with white paint has been shown to reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it. This also decreases greenhouse gasses and reduces the Urban Heat Island effect, decreasing the carbon footprint.
Green roofing is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Many energy conscious cities are creating a push for green roofing installation. Contractors and citizens should be aware of this, and if possible, take advantage of the benefits green roofs have to offer. Green roofing installation has significant benefits now and in the future.