What is a living roof? A green living rooftop is a thin layer of vegetation that homeowners install on a flat or sloped roof. Before installation, homeowners lay down a waterproofing membrane to avoid leaks and other hazardous water problems.
Living Roof Benefits
Living roofs come with a number of priceless benefits, including the following:
- Waste diversion – Prolongs service life of HVAC systems and waterproofing membranes (due to decreased use)
- Aesthetic improvement – Beautifies cities, buildings, and landscapes and increases investment opportunities
- Stormwater management – Retains rainwater, moderate temperatures of water, and acts as a filter for water runoff
- Improved air quality – Filters noxious gases, captures airborne pollutants, moderates temperatures and decreases CO2
- New functioning spaces – Creates more space for amenities, such as community gardens, recreational space, and commercial space
- Local job creation – Opens up job opportunities for manufacturing, design, innovation, installation, and maintenance
- Energy efficiency – Reduces energy and moderates temperature for building interiors
- Fire retardation – Offers advanced fire protection
- Noise reduction – Reduces outdoor sounds by 40 decibels
- Increased marketability – Facilitates easier recruiting, lower turnover and increased curb appeal
- Increased biodiversity – Stabilizes ecosystems, economic services and social well-being (visual diversity has a positive impact on a community)
- Increased educational opportunities – Gives students and teachers a chance to study new plant life and biological ecosystems
- Improved health and well-being – Decreases demand for health care (reduces pollution), increases water quality, and serves as community hub
- Prolonged lifespan – Extends the lifespan of a roof by 200 percent
With so many benefits, it’s not difficult to understand why green rooftops are growing popular among residents in urban, suburban, and rural areas. When homeowners want to top their homes with something that is aesthetically pleasing, energy efficient, and healthy, they quickly turn to living rooftops as the only solution.
Living Roof Types
Green roofs are typically categorized into one of two types: intensive or extensive. These two living roof types are differentiated by plants, cost, and depth of growing medium (sand, gravel, peat, soil, crushed brick, and organic matter).
- Intensive green roofs are accessible, have higher capital costs and deeper soil, weigh more, have more diverse plants and require more maintenance.
- Extensive green roofs aren’t usually accessible, have a low weight, plant diversity, capital cost and require very little maintenance.
Living Roofs in Urban Areas
Although Canada and the United States are well behind other places—namely Europe—when it comes to investing in green roof infrastructure, most North American markets are beginning to catch on. Many cities have jumped onto the bandwagon and most city officials now encourage citizens to top their homes and apartment buildings with green roofs.
Calgary city officials are no different. In Calgary, officials believe green roofs make for a healthier city. Calgary provides design guidelines for green roofs and hopes residents will convert their flat roofs and sloped roofs into aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly spaces.
If you live in, or own a business in the busiest parts of Calgary, contact your Calgary roofing contractors to determine whether or not green roofing is a viable option for your apartment, business, or home.
Living Roofs in Suburban Areas
Thousands of families live on the outskirts of Calgary. Many homeowners in suburban areas want to convert their roofs into green spaces, but aren’t sure if a green roof will complement the style of their home.
The answer is easy: “green” is always in. It never hurts to take extra precautions and take it easy on the environment.
You can install a green living space on a sloped roof or a flat roof. If you’re worried snow might affect the efficacy of your green roof, don’t be. Green roofs act as great barriers against the cold and will provide an extra layer of insulation during the coldest months of the year.
Living Roofs in Rural Areas
The earliest forms of green roofs appeared in the most rural areas of the world. Today, homeowners in rural areas—the pastoral Swedish countryside, the wind-whipped Faroe Islands, and Alberta’s backwoods—all use green roofs to give their house an old-time look and give back to the environment.
Most homeowners in rural areas are well aware of their carbon footprint and take matters into their own hands. These homeowners recognize that green roofing is an easy way to reduce their carbon footprint and feel comfortable (and guilt-free) in their homes.
Whether you live in a brimming urban city, a family-friendly suburban town, or a quiet rural settlement, green roofs provide the most idyllic topping to any home and apartment. Green living roofs haven’t been in North America long (since the late 1990s), but green roofs are certainly here to stay.