An aerial view of city housetops no longer shows just typical black rooftops that radiate heat. Water no longer has to pour off the impenetrable surfaces only to run into the drainage systems and create untold problems. Green rooftops are beginning to sprout up on homes and businesses as a solution to convention style roofs.
Two types of green roofs
There are two types of green roofs: extensive and intensive. The extensive green roof supports a ground cover that requires very little maintenance. Its purpose is purely environmental, and it does not function as a rooftop garden area. This green roof is relatively lightweight. The intensive green roof is quite heavy and literally functions as an outdoor park. Trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetable gardens can be planted and benches and walkways added. They are more complex to build structurally, and a drainage system is needed.
The environmental benefits
Green roofs are of special value in large cities, because they take neglected space and make it into a useful green, natural area. Green areas are available close by for residents, employees and pets to enjoy. Air quality is also improved. These roofs absorb the rain water and help reduce the amount of heat that is trapped and absorbed in the city by cooling the air as the water evaporates from the leaves. Green roofs help reduce the risk of fires, too.
The social benefits
The social benefits of green roofs may not be taken into consideration at first thought. They provide exposure to nature within the city, improving both the mental and physical health of the inhabitants. As the sense of pride increases within a person so does the level of trust and civic participation. This results in less littering and less aggression, violence and vandalism.
Are they worth the cost
The cost of a green roof far surpasses that of a normal type of roof. The cost usually starts at $8 a square foot and rises, depending on the extensiveness of the project and the type of green roof chosen. They require special support, a waterproof membrane, appropriate drainage and a professional design. However, professionals say that the economic benefits far outweigh the cost of the green roof.
The economic benefits
This type of roof is not damaged by severe weather and the sun’s rays, making it last at least twice as long as a normal roof. By insulating the building from extreme outside temperatures, the green roof keeps inside temperatures more stabilized, reducing the cost of heating and cooling considerably. Food costs can be cut by planting fruit trees and using part of the roof to plant a garden. These economic benefits reduce the expense of a green roof considerably.
Green roofs go far beyond their environmental benefits and the beautiful site they provide from the air. As cities and communities grow and the economy continues to shrink, more and more homeowners and business owners will be turning to green roofs to help provide their everyday needs, which in turn will benefit the entire community. Could green roofs be the answer to many of the problems society faces today?