10 Reasons to Love a Green Roof
Take a look at the environmental, aesthetic, economical and even structural benefits of a ‘living roof’
As a building designer who specialises in sustainable design, my mission is to see more of Australian cities transform from a desert of concrete to a sea of green. Green roofs can play a huge part in this. Recent research has shown that green roofs can have huge benefits, and not only to the structure on which they are installed. So why don’t we all have green roofs?
I believe the biggest reason is that some homeowners doubt their technical performance. For instance, a lot of my clients come to me with concerns that green roofs fail because they leak, or that they add additional weight-loading to a roof that a building can’t support. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest green roofs are more susceptible to leaking than normal roofs – some studies show the plants actually help protect the roof from natural weathering.
Let me also assure you that if the work is completed by a qualified and skilled tradesperson, and overseen by a structural engineer, the chances of failure are low. We just need to get proper legislation to make it mandatory that only specific licensed tradespeople can install green roofs. Have a read of the benefits below and you’ll see why installing a green roof is worth your time and money.
WHAT IS A GREEN ROOF?
Green roofs have been around for hundreds of years, contrary to popular misconception that they’re a recent fad, yet recent advances in their execution mean that they are quicker to install, lighter in weight and more robust.
WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE THEM
1. They can save you money
Green roofs have been shown to increase the value of a property due to their cost-saving abilities. For one thing, they absorb and redirect rainwater, reducing runoff. For another, they provide insulation (more on this below) meaning less energy is required for heating and cooling, which therefore leads to significant cost savings.
2. They reduce noise
3. They look nice
4. They create natural ecosystems
5. They insulate a home better
6. They provide cleaner air
7. They can improve your health
8. They reduce flooding
This means that instead of the rainwater flowing straight off the roof, down the downpipe and into our waterways, the rainwater is absorbed by the plants and soil; which automatically reduces the flow rate of the water into our stormwater systems. Even better, if a rainwater tank is installed then the tank is filled first, before the water flows into the stormwater system.
DID YOU KNOW? Green roofs also help to purify this water. The rainwater flows through the plant and substrate layers before reaching the drain; toxins like zinc and copper sulphate remain in the substrate and out of the water.
9. They reduce ‘heat island’ effect
In densely developed areas, green roofs can reduce the heat island effect by removing heat-conducting roof surfaces like concrete or brick, and replacing them with heat-absorbing ‘living’ layers that also provide shade for the hot air.
10. And don’t forget the psychological benefits
You don’t need government-funded research or a team of scientists to work out that people would prefer to look out at a garden rather then a plain rooftop. I’ve seen the natural, mood-boosting benefits firsthand when installing greenery around office spaces, whether it be a green roof or a vertical garden – it’s an instant attraction to their work space and environment.