What is a Living Roof?

Green Roof Images

Sedum
Sedum

The Green Roof System

Living roofs are what is known as a "green roof system" (see photos). Sometimes they are referred to as "growing roofs" and "sedum roofs." The living roof is alive and is usually made up of a waterproof membrane, the drainage layer, and a blanket of green plants. Sedum is one of the ideal plants used (see photo). Sedum plants are a shallow-rooted, low-growing perennial.

What are the benefits of a living roof?

- Provides a wildlife habitat for birds and insects

- Helps with flood prevention by retaining 65 to 100% of rainwater, and releasing water at a slower rate

- Improves air quality by absorbing particulate matter from cars, factories, dust, and pollen

- Increases quality of life for people living and working near them by also providing a view of nature

- lower roof costs over a period of time because UV rays are blocked from the membrane - this prevents degradation. The green roof prevents extreme surface temperature fluctuations

Why pick sedum?

Sedum plants are very hardy, making them ideal for a green roof system. Sedum tolerates drought, frost, sun, salt, heat, wind, disease, and insects. Sedum requires little or no irrigation - except that which falls from the sky.

Added benefits -

Advantages of a sedum roof includes its ability to filter pollution in the air. It also reduces storm water runoff. The green roof system is now considered for use in the city because it eliminates the "urban heat island effect."

What cause the urban heat island effect?

The urban heat island effect is caused when traditional roofing materials absorb heat from the sun during the day - then radiates it back at night, which in turn, heats up the area around the building. The plants and soil on the roof absorb less heat.

What about maintenance?

Minimal maintenance is sufficient for caring for a sedum roof. The plants are also durable enough to be walked on. Oxygen produced by the sedum roof and the carbon sequestered is beneficial to the environment.

The cost?

The Initial cost of installing a sedum roof is more expensive than a traditional roof. However, energy savings, as well as a long roof life, amortizes the additional expense.

These roofs are very common in Germany and Scandinavian countries, and are beginning to make their way to America as a beneficial alternative to other types of roofing material. 

For more information about green living ideas, as well as housing options, and outdoor wood burning boilers, see links below:

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Comments 67 comments

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

BK, I didn't know about living roofs, they are actually very pretty! The benefits to the environment makes it worthwhile. As usual, I always learn something from you!

Rated up!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Love your new avatar VioletSun - and thanks for commenting. It seems this is still pretty new here in the US - but it makes so much sense. We can't turn everything into a concrete jungle and not provide for the other animals among us. I want this on a smaller scale - like on my roof top when I retire to the country.

Thanks for the up rating!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

These are so awesomely useful! Ford had a living roof on one of their plants in New England I think. But they are great for every home that could be planned for it. Thank you BkCreative!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome Micky Dee. This is on my list of must do things. Actually, I want to hang out on such a roof top - see what's going on up there. It is much needed here in NYC - and I am reading that it is beginning to happen on office buildings and some tall residences. I'm so glad.


GreenGardenGuy profile image

GreenGardenGuy 6 years ago from Fort Myers, FL

These are so cool. I wish I could afford to put one on my house. It gets awful hot here in southern Florida.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

I've seen a few living roofs on Vancouver Island and they looked so pretty, so much a part of the environment and downright hobbitish. I also saw goats grazing on the roofs... perhaps an unthought of side effect. Lynda


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Cool...and cool GreenGardenGuy! I remember seeing photos of them some years ago in other countries and the photos always had a goat or two on top. And you live in FL? This would be perfect - maybe the next time you need a roof.

Thanks for writing!

Ah, just got your comment lmmartin - so you have actually seen the goats. I suppose they graze and control certain types of greens. I really like this - the look, the idea - and welcoming back more birds and insects - maybe goats and more.

Thanks for writing!


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

These are brilliant! Oh my gosh. I have never heard of such a thing! What fabulous information!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thnaks theherbivorehippi! It really makes sense here in the city where we swelter with all the concrete and paved roads and brick buildings. The heavy rains - which can only run off into a sewer - so why not in a green roof?

I certainly want one of these roofs.

Thanks a million for writing!


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 6 years ago from Sweden

I have seen some living roofs, and some of them was on roofs to passive houses or environmentally friendly houses. It looks beautiful and have funtion, what more can one want! And in the cities, it would certainly do som good! Very useful hub and up!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thank you so much thoughtforce. I am so glad to see this as a possibility in the US. One installer/manufacturer is located in NC where I want to retire to - I'd rather buy a bit of an old shack and then have it 'greened' for me.

Thanks a lot for commenting and the up rating!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

The more the change, the more the same. My grandmother in Oklahoma had a "living roof." They called it a "sod roof."


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Love it dallas93444! And I bet your grandmother knew how to do it all by herself!

We gave it all up for what? Well, we are consumers and must buy buy buy no matter what the benefit.

Thanks for that information!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Those are so cool - reminds me of the grass roof shot I put in my funny story about stranding Bob up on the roof. He wouldn't have gotten so hot if we had a sedum roof! Something to think about.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Glad you liked the idea, akirchner. And find the sedum may work for you in the future - hilariously speaking of course.

Glad you found it cool jaaotest.

Thanks for the comments!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

Wow, now I'm trying to imagine what if every house in my neighborhood had a living roof. It would be soooooo fantastic. Thanks for sharing this. Rated it awesome. :)


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I'd love that Om Paramapoonya! What a nice thought to have - and visualize. It's on my list of things to do - yay!

Thanks for the rating!


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

Very interesting - I had never heard of living roofs, so thanks for all the information!


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Omg this is the most awesome hub. I have always wanted to dfo this. I have a shingle roof, can I create this on my normal roof? I really want to know about this and will also twitte this and rate up up up


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

They seemed to great and useful


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome Rose West, I'm glad you found the hub interesting.

Seems there are a few companies doing this Darlene Sabella. One I know is in NC which appealed to me because I want to buy property in NC - and would like to check out their finished work. I hope if you do it you'll write a step by step hub about it.

I'm glad you found it great and useful Hello, hello.

Thanks for the comments.


TheListLady profile image

TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

Gosh, I'd love to stroll around up there. And I'd love to drive up to my farm house and see this roof maybe with a goat on it. it just makes so much sense.

I like the look of the sedum.

Certainly on my list of must haves! Rated up.


CountryCityWoman profile image

CountryCityWoman 6 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

This is for me. I love the look of the sedum. I would love to have this roof. Soon.

Thanks a million and rate way up!


sanjeeta kk profile image

sanjeeta kk 6 years ago from India

Love the green roof concept. Am not sure if I can get these plants and the technique to grow them on roof in India. Would love to live in one such houses.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I'm with you thelistlady - there is a certain appeal about being on that green roof top. The sedum is appealing and it seems nearly indestructible.

Thanks for the rating CountryCityWoman. I plan to do more research - this is so appealing.

I wonder how it feels indoors sanjeeta kk under such a roof. It is so visually appealing. I have a feeling India has mastered this concept already.

Thanks for the comments!


xixi12 profile image

xixi12 6 years ago from Everywhere but here. In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. You can never be truly free till you have the discipline to manage it.

Great hub, I like the way you select topics people hardly know about and give detailed information for someone who knows nothing about it to learn from it. Once again, I have learnt something new from your hub.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thank you so much for your lovely comment xixi12. Such a nice comment is always appreciated and it inspires me to do more, to keep going and to have a standard. Yay!

Thank you for writing.


burning bush profile image

burning bush 6 years ago

I had always planned to be living green and off the grid at this point. Unfortunately the reality of life, finances, and no longer being twenty-five years old any more means its not going to happen. Still I love reading hubs like yours which are so informative and inspirational to read. Thanks.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome. Oh it will happen burning bush. Now that we are not 25, we have the wisdom. We can do this.

Meanwhile, thanks a million for your comment. Nice to meet you too.


RunAbstract profile image

RunAbstract 6 years ago from USA

What an absolutely wonderful roofing alterative! Thank you for this important information, and idea! Voted up, useful, and awesome!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thank you RunAbstract. I'm so glad you like this alternative option. It is so visually appealing to me. I want to try it.

Thank you too for the up rating and more. Yay!


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

Wow! What a welcome relief this would be in a world that is fast becoming a concrete jungle! A living roof sounds such a super alternative to dead concrete!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I love how you express yourself Shalini Kagal. The idea of living materials (for living people) instead of dead concrete which gives us nothing in return. So true.

Thanks a million for writing!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Actually, I never knew about living roof before. But you describe this very well. I really enjoy read all the information about living roof. Very useful for us. Thank you very much. Rating Up!

Prasetio:)


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thank you prasetio. I'm sure this is what our ancestors did many years ago. All sorts of wonderful natural things like roof tops.

I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. And thanks so much for the up rating!


HealthyHanna profile image

HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

I have heard of these! I think they are a great idea. I think there is actually one (not exactly like the ones shown here) on a business here in Utah.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Probably so HealthyHanna - a lot of them are showing on rooftops here in NYC. So cooling.

Thanks for commenting!


cameciob profile image

cameciob 6 years ago

BkCreative, very informative article. I've seen green roofs and I always wondered what plants they use. I've seen trees too, actualy more like bushes. But sedum make more sense. I have lots of sedum in my garden, and around the house. Never take care of it. Looks like it multiplies itself and indead doesn't mind the weather conditions. I wish I had a living roof on my house. I've always thought that living roofs are only for the flat roofs until now when I saw your pictures. Very interesting. Voted up and rated! :)


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Good promotion for sedum cameciob - the fact that it multiplies and requires no care and doesn't mind the weather. I like the succulent look.

We're seeing more of these rooftops in NYC usually with bushes and trees, and yes, the big flat tops.

I could really go for a sedum roof on a house out in the country. It just has to be great.

Thanks for commenting!


Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 6 years ago from Georgia

How amazing. BkCreative you never cease to amaze me with all these wonderful facts. I had never heard of a living roof but I think it is a wonderful concept.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Don't you just love it Veronica Allen. I hope to see more of these and would love to have one when I move to the country. So lovely.


loseweightmama profile image

loseweightmama 6 years ago from Maine

Living roofs rock. We have a couple of friends that have them here in Maine. We've talked alot about one day having one when we build our dream home. Really glad to see this on hubpages!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

So glad you shared that information loseweightmama! Glad to know they are doing well up in Maine.

Great to meet you too by the way. Thanks for commenting!


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Voted up and awesome Brooklyn-C !!! There is a house in the neighborhood I teach behind the wheel lessons and it's roof is arched and covered with what looks like grass. The kids call it "The Hobbit House". It's a beautiful looking abode.

When I lived in Chicago Mayor Daley promoted green roofs setting the precedent with a huge green landscape atop cityhall, check it out if you're ever there.

Great piece, inspiring and I enjoyed the layman's terms regarding the different layers, now I know!

Ben


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Love the 'hobbit house'- kids are so clever. OK Ben, I am going to check out the green landscape in Chicago atop the city hall as soon as I finish here. I love the architecture of Chicago - a super city were I'd love to live - but then winter comes and yikes.

Thanks for sharing this information. I'm sure other readers will enjoy it.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 5 years ago from US

Your hubs always gave me more to know and learn. I think this is the first time I see this and thank you, I love it.. The benefits are great and it is greener around.. Maita


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I'm glad you like it Maita. Just the idea of seeing more green and knowing its around - how can we not benefit?

Thanks for commenting!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 5 years ago from Southern Arizona

I wrote an article for a client a while back about eco-friendly roofs and was so impressed with the idea of living roofs. Your Hub provided loads of info and advice for anyone considering this earth friendly option. Great Hub!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks for the compliment lindacee. I'm glad we are beginning to take the idea of 'green' living seriously.

Thanks for commenting!


GreenThumbLady profile image

GreenThumbLady 5 years ago from The Beautiful Earth

These are awesome!! What a fabulous idea. Really enjoyed this hub!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks GreenThumbLady - I know you are into the green stuff and I value your opinion.

Yay!


jtrader profile image

jtrader 5 years ago

I think they are good to look at. Ideal for homes in the city to break up the boring look of concrete.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Absolutely jtrader - it amazes me when hi-rise apartments are sold for the view...and the view is a concrete city, with tarred rooftops and building after building. No, give me nature.

Thanks for writing!


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

I love the idea. I would love to have a sedum roof. Eco-friendly and so cool. Rated up.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I'm so glad anglnwu - that we are beginning to appreciate the finer/healthier things in life. This is on my list of must have - thanks for writing!


energy star roofing systems 5 years ago

Wonderful and amazing.I can imagine a world full of green roofs which would be great for the world.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Ah, wouldn't it be lovely energy star roofing systems! Thanks for writing!


Urban Farm Girl profile image

Urban Farm Girl 5 years ago from El Cerrito, California

Living roof is awesome. We have classes at Merritt College to learn how to build natural buildings, and some student have put together a living roof in the past. An additional idea is to keep bee boxes on the living roof since many people are afraid of bees being on the ground level - too close for their comfort. If bees are on the roof, people will not block bees' entrance ways by accident and get stung.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

How great is that to have courses teaching natural building! Thanks so much for sharing that information. I'm sure many more would like to know how to do it even if they don't plan to build such a roof - it's still good to know what's going on.

Thanks a million!


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 5 years ago

BK Creative, What a Great Green Home Improvement Idea! You always share excellent innovative ideas! Thank you for sharing, Peace & Blessings!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome Deborrah K. Ogans- thanks for commenting!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

Well, this is a very good idea especially when you're in the city. The neighborhood are so crowded that you cannot or will not find some c=vacant lots to plant something. The roof is the best alternative. Can I call it, Organic Roof?

Thanks for this wonderful hub, Ms. BkC!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

It really does make sense in the city, travel_man1971. We desperately need some green so yes, why not use what we have. I like the idea of organic roof because we shouldn't spray it and we can share it with the birds. We need to give back. Glad you liked the hub!


Cold Pressed Oil profile image

Cold Pressed Oil 5 years ago from San Diego

I want one! I can't believe I've never heard of living roofs before. Those benefits are all awesome. Plus it makes you feel like you're living in a hobbit home :)


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You know Cold Pressed Oil - if it is promoted as a hobbit home, sales would probably boom. We still have a long way to go to return to nature and reap her many benefits. This would just be so great. Glad you like it!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas

Such very cool idea! Voted up and awesome! :)


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 4 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks a million justmesuzanne!

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