What is a Green Roof? | Roofing
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What is a Green Roof?

Have you ever heard of a green roof? Not just a roof with solar panels or artificial tiles that reflect additional heat, but the ultimate eco-friendly roof: a living garden above your home. Whether you are seriously considering a green roof for your home or are simply curious about what they are, use the guide below to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of green roofing. If you like what you read, consider finding a professional roofer to take the next steps towards marking your neighborhood a greener place.
The Essentials

The Benefits

Green roofs do have tangible benefits beyond the aesthetic they add to your home. A living eco-system on your roof will help insulate your home and prevent heat transfer during the summer. You’ll see the difference on your energy bill during the hot summer months. Additionally, green roofs will absorb and retain rainfall until the soil itself is saturated. This will result in significantly less runoff to tax your gutters and drainage systems.

The Basics

A green roof has three basic components: the waterproof membrane that covers your physical roof, the growing medium (such as soil) that covers the membrane, and the vegetation you plant in the soil. The membrane prevents structural water damage from the moisture the soil will retain after rains and regular irrigation. The growing medium will be a special blend that is lighter and less dense than the dirt you commonly find around your home to prevent placing excessive weight on your physical roof. The plants you choose will depend on both the visual effect you want your roof to achieve and the type of green roofing system you choose to install.

Intensive vs Extensive Systems

Green roofs are basically divided into intensive systems and extensive systems. Extensive systems are meant to be low maintenance affairs that use a thinner layer, usually less than six inches, of soil to grow primarily grasses and some light shrubs. You often only need to water, weed, or fertilize these systems once a year. Intensive systems, on the other hand, use a deep soil base to support everything from flowers to small trees. The nature of intensive systems will generally require regular irrigation and maintenance.

Structural Concerns

Aside from aesthetics and how much time you would want to spend working with it, a major concern in the nature of your green roof will be the structural capabilities of your home: If you place too much weight on the top of your home, parts of the roof could cave in. Intensive green roofing systems are much heavier than extensive ones, and will require a building whose roof can safely bear the additional load. How much weight your roof can sustain will depend on both its underlying structure and the pitch of the different planes in the roof. This is why you should consult a green roofing professional who can tell you exactly what kind of green roof your house can handle and help you pick the perfect soil that will sustain your roof top garden without adding unnecessary stress to your structure.

Brown Roofs

Some people choose to take their green roofs one step further and create what are called brown roofs. These are roofs which go beyond the idea of a roof top garden to create a rich, biodiverse, ecosystem that can serve as habitats for vulnerable species of plants and animals. Creating brown roofs, sometimes called biodiversity roofs, generally involve combining lightweight growing mediums with rocks, rubble, and soil from the surrounding area to recreate ground level habitats.
Find a Green Roofing Professional
If you want to find out more about green roofs or what kind of system your home could support, use the MagicYellow directory to find a qualified roofing professional in your area.

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