Green roof research is important to find out more about this exciting roofing option.
What are Green Roofs?
Green roofs are also known as living roofs or eco roofs and are constructed from living material. A green roof is fully planted and lives in the same way that any other planted area of ground lives. Green roofs are planted with a variety of plants; low maintenance plants are the best, such as mosses, succulents and herbs.
Green roofs are extremely popular in Germany where it is estimated that 10 percent of flat roofs are built as green or eco roofs.
Types of Green Roofs
There are two types of green roof systems: extensive and intensive. Extensive green roof systems are designed for their aesthetic and environmental benefits, they are not typically designed for walking upon. Extensive green roof systems are planted with low growing plants such as mosses and succulents. This roof system is low maintenance as it is not designed to be accessed on a regular basis.
The intensive green roof is comparable to a roof garden and this is designed to be accessed and therefore to be walked upon. Larger shrubs and trees are planted within this system and these will require frequent maintenance. Intensive green roof systems are typically used by local authorities or by public access organizations who are opening up their green roof as a green space for people to visit.
Benefits of Green Roofs
The benefits of green roofs are many. One key community benefit of green roofs is that they help disperse storm water and therefore reduce the demand on municipal wastewater systems. This is increasingly important in areas with large amounts of new building that potentially could cause flooding issues in the future.
On an individual level, green roofs are reported to provide some or all of the following benefits:
- High degree of insulation
- A cooling system for hot climates
- A roofing system that is longer lasting than traditional roofing materials
- An excellent fire proofing system
In addition to the benefits above, the plants that grow on green roofs help to balance carbon emissions and therefore help to provide a neutral carbon footprint. The green roof in effect replaces the environment that the building was constructed upon. This is of great importance in areas of concentrated building where there are few green areas.
While there are many positive aspects of green roofs, there are also some significant issues to investigate further. These include:
- Structural Issues: There are structural implications to be aware of. A green roof is heavy and substantial, therefore buildings need to be capable of withstanding the additional weight.
- Maintenance: Green roofs need maintaining. While they can be left to grow "wild," it is necessary to ensure that no plants or shrubs have root growth that will damage the structure or cause an imbalance to the roof.
- Cost: Another major consideration for a householder who already owns a house is the cost of replacing the roof. A green roof is a good option, however, when considering replacing an old or substandard roof.
Where to Find Green Roof Research
With the increase in popularity of green roofs, there is a growing amount of information available both in print and online. There are many excellent websites that offer a wealth of information including case studies, photos, videos and even forums for people to discuss the concept of green roofs.
The fact that green roofs are extremely popular in Europe, in particular Germany, means that many companies have researched the green roof issues internationally and are able to report their findings to a U.S. market.
The following websites offer some excellent green roof research resources:
- commons.bcit.ca - Center for the Advancement of Green Roof Technology
- GreenRoofs.com - Information and resources
- GreenRoofs.org - Green Roofs Tree of Knowledge
- OptiGreen.com - English version of a German website, including pictures of green roofs in Germany
Articles About Green Roofs
The following websites offer interesting reading about green roofs:
Green roofs provide an exciting alternative to traditional roofing systems with many benefits and are definitely worth exploring further.