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Green roofs


A green roof (or living roof) is a roof covered with vegetation. Soil is in place as a growing medium for the plants and underneath the soil is a waterproofing membrane and provision for drainage. An irrigation system is usually in place. Lawn or plants can be grown, resulting in a natural green carpet on the roof of your house.

Green roofs look good and can have a pyschological impact due to the natural covering and the roof's sustainability.

Green roofs for houses are referred to as "extensive" green roofs, as opposed to the large green roofs on city buildings, which are known as "intensive" and which can incorporate shrubs and trees.

Extensive green roofs comprise self-seeding covers such as sedums, grasses, mosses and meadow flowers, which require little or no irrigation and fertilisation. Extensive systems can be placed on low-slope and pitched roofs with up to a 40 per cent slope.They are usually low maintenance and drought-tolerant.

Green roofs are expensive to install in the US, costing from $15 to $20 a square foot. This contrasts badly with germany, where the costs are from $8 to $15 a square foot. Some fincial benefits are derived from the long lifespan of a green roof - they can last up to three times as long as a conventional roof.

Apart from the aesthetic value and appeal of a natural, living roof, the main benefits attached to a green roof revolve around comfort and energy savings.

Green roofs allow houses to better retain heat during the cooler winter months while reflecting the sun's rays during the hotter summer months, so a house with a green roof is cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Importantly, the vegetation on the roof absorbs heat in hot summer months, absorbing up to 60 per cent of solar radiation through photosynthesis and evapotranspiration. This, along with the roof's reflective qualities, can largely reduce reduce the need for air-conditioning, resulting in substantial cost savings.

Green roofs slow the amount of rain run-off, easing pressure on gutters and downpipes.

There are many environmental reasons for installing a green roof. They can retain up to 75 per cent of rainwater, gradually releasing it back into the atmosphere via condensation and transpiration. Pollutants are trapped in the soil and oxygen is released back into the atmosphere, proving air quality.

In some US states, incentives may be available in the form of stormwater tax reduction, grants, or rebates. has been compiled as a resource for home owners seeking help with roofing, and also as a helpful aid for businesses providing roofing services.