Living Roofs

Ford Motor Company's Living Roof!

We've all heard of living wills and living trusts but what about living roofs? Living roofs have been used by some cultures for centuries and have gained interest by architects and homeowners and can even be used on office buildings.

What Are Living Roofs?

A living or green roof doesn't mean the roof is green in color! Living roofs topped with flowers, various grasses, turf and even shrubs and trees. Only in the 1990s did builders think of living roof as sustainable architecture. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED architects pitched their ideas to many home and office-building owners. The idea of utilizing green living roofs are popping up in all parts of the United States and are so popular, some are even open to the public.

The Advantages Of a Green Roof

The advantages of having a green roof are vast. First, they provide effective insulation that helps to keep buildings warmer in the winter and cool in the summer. Living roofs are also a filter for rainfall and helps with drainage issues. They also offer a living habitat for animals more so in urban areas and provide an attractive and desirable atmosphere for humans. Finally, these types of roofs offer vast improvements to our environment and help with air quality in heavily polluted metropolitan areas.

Living Roofs, Inc offers the advantages of green and environmentally friendly roofs:

  • Stormwater Management - Roofs retain 65 to 100 percent of rainwater.
  • Urban Climate Mitigation - Helps to reduce the urban heat.
  • Reduced Energy Costs - Can reduce thermal loading in the summer months.
  • Provides Wildlife Habitat - This is advantageous especially in urban environments.
  • Increased Green Living Space - In large cities the roof provides greenery in an otherwise concrete living space.
  • Increased Membrane Life - Helps to block UV rays and can lead to lower roof costs.
  • Improves Air Quality - These types of roofs can absorb pollutants from things like cars, factories, pollen, and dust.
  • Provides LEED Credits - For a structure to be entirely LEED certified, it must achieve twenty-six LEED credits. Living roofs are eligible for up to six credits alone.

How Are They Built?

Basically there are two types of green roofs. The first is called an intensive roof that is deeper in order to support small trees and shrubs. These roofs must receive additional reinforcement due to the weight of the trees and shrubs. The second type is called the extensive roof that is shallower to hold various types of grass, wildflowers, and other green ground cover plants. The intensive roof costs more due to the reinforcement required. Green roofs are even incorporated into pitched roofs.

Either type of roof can hold a garden design and are covered with waterproof roofing materials. Usually sod is used on both types of roofs. Even older homes can benefit from a living roof. While extensive roofs are accessed for maintenance and environmental purposes, intensive roofs that hold plants, trees, and shrubs can be used for comfort and pleasure. Each living roof built requires the skills of both an architect and a landscape architect to reap the most benefits.

An Example Of a Living Roof

Although living roofs can be found all over the world, one of the largest is right her in the United States. Ford Motor Company has covered their River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan with plants, grass, and sedum. Designed by William McDonough, this green roof covers 450,000 square feet helping to fight pollution at this truck facility and was built in 2003.

If you're interested in a living roof for your home or office building, a simple web search will find you many companies that are certified to install them.

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