Green roofing ideas are blossoming. Cities and countries like Singapore have captured our imaginations and made us think of a Pandora on Earth. But the actual logistics, choosing what “green” will mean, and who it matters to, as well as how to go about funding these initiatives, are all more difficult than they appear.
“Green” means different things to different people. To the people in Singapore, green means plants, and that’s a trend that catching on with roofing. To many people, this means that roofs will become gardens. This is a great option, and it can help to encourage native bird populations to remain in the area if you use native plants and help provide some safe nesting sites.
However, it can also be costly and challenging to keep up.
On the other hand, rooftop garden areas hit almost all of the same notes. The difference is that these do not have to encompass the entire roof, and the resident doesn’t have to deal with the logistics of having a waterproof layer, dirt and filtering sediments all kept up with. Instead, rooftop gardens can be wheelchair accessible, provide homes for native wildlife, and encourage people to use an often neglected area. They also provide an added bonus of insulating your living space and protecting the longevity of your roof.
When added to businesses instead of homes, this idea can help as well. Hospitals can use rooftop gardens as part of physical therapy for patients without having to renovate. And some companies have already started using rooftop and indoor gardens, run by employees, to grow food. This cuts down on food costs, reduces the impact of food by eliminating transportation, and gives their employees a bonding experience and hobby they can enjoy while working.
However, crafting rooftop gardens isn’t always easy. It’s just as much work as a regular garden, but you also have to get all of the materials up to the roof. And as Denver, CO recently discovered, making sure that all of the roofs are both up to regular city code and act as safe areas for gardens is quite a feat. Then you have to make sure all the plants that are being used are safe and not invasive species and encourage people to use native species. All told, it’s a much more labour-intensive prospect than it sounds like.
From Roof to Ground
A garden can benefit from the roof without actually being on it, though. This type of garden is commonly associated with LEED-certified buildings and uses the water from the roof as part of its habitat. These rain gardens use an upgraded version of the gutter system to funnel water away from the roof and into a low-lying area filled with plants that are designed to get “wet feet.”
This type of garden isn’t exactly on the roof, but it prevents any runoff damage, and it’s a simple way to encourage individuals to upgrade their existing gutter system without actually having to redo everything. As far as roofing options go, this is probably one of the cheapest and simplest to implement.
Using the Sun
Actual greenery isn’t the only interpretation of green roofing. According to Emily, is a sustainability blogger and the editor of Conservation Folks, green technology is another way to look at it. In this case, solar seems to be the most accessible and most widely used technology that individuals have access to.
Other types of green energy like wind and geothermal are options, but they tend to be cost-prohibitive for regular people. That leaves solar as the only real option. Luckily, it’s become a reasonably cost-effective one.
Solar panel roofing has been continuing to increase in popularity for a while. The result isn’t as pretty and doesn’t help the local wildlife as much as a rooftop garden does, but it does help the planet. Reducing any reliance we have on fossil fuels is a vital aspect of our future, both because we’re going to run out of fossil fuels eventually and because the process of using them is harmful on its own.
Solar power has grown an average of 68 percent a year since 2006, making it one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. Companies and individuals alike can afford it, although changing laws may alter that in the future.
There are likely to be other kinds of roofing ideas that come up as these ideas become more prevalent. Keeping an eye on the trends and new ideas can help people take advantage of new technologies that work the best for their situation.
February 20, 2018