What is a Living Roof?
Green Roof Images
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 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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