What Is A Green Roof And Should I Install One?
In recent years, there has been a marked increase in ways for your home to help reduce its carbon footprint and save on energy bills. While more common solutions such as changing to LED lightbulbs or installing better installation are always talked about, the roof is often not discussed as a way to save money. This is where a green roof can help.
But what is a green roof and should I consider investing in one? Read on to find out.
What Is an Eco-Roof?
A green roof, also known as an eco-roof or a sedum roof, is a roofing alternative that combines natural materials and the construction world. It usually consists of a flat or slightly-sloped roof, with a layer of vegetation planted over a waterproofing system. It has several layers not present in other roofing types, including structural roof support, vapour control, thermal insulation, waterproofing, root repellant, drainage layer and a growing medium. All of these function to keep the plants on top alive and to protect the structure it is installed on top of.
The growing medium is not the same as would be typically used for a plant or garden, as traditional soil is too heavy and will absorb too much water after repeated rain. Instead, it is a mix of mineral aggregates and only a small amount of organic material, enabling it to have great drainage while being lightweight and resistant to decomposition.
Some green roofs are installed as a large section, or many modular sections that are fitted together to create a larger space. Modular sections can be cultivated in a greenhouse so that they can be planted ready to go onto a rooftop, so you don’t have to waste time waiting for them to thrive.
There are two types of green roofs, extensive and intensive. An extensive green roof has a shallow growing medium with limited plant diversity and watering requirements. This means it requires less maintenance, with watering only needed during prolonged dry spells. An intensive green roof has a deeper growth medium that can support a more diverse plant selection, even small trees. For this, you should need proper irrigation and have to perform more maintenance, as it functions more like a garden on a roof than a green space you can leave alone.
There is also a semi-extensive roof, which is a mix of an extensive and intensive roof. It uses lower growing plants but is not meant for trees.
Benefits Of A Green Roof
There are plenty of benefits to having a green roof, such as:
Impact On The Air
The plants on the roof help to filter smog and pollution out of the air and convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. They also absorb and reflect sunlight, making the air around your property a lot cooler. This means you’ll notice a decreased temperature in warmer months and fresher, healthier air to breathe. Healthier air and an abundance of plant life will also have a positive impact on your mood and mental health.
Instead of rainwater simply landing on your roof and streaming off, a green roof will use up a lot of the rain that falls on it. It will either absorb it into the plants, or filter it off your roof more efficiently, preventing pooling and puddles from forming. The water that is filtered through is also cleaned on the roof, releasing purer water back into the world.
Increase Property Value
Just like other additions to a property, a green roof can help to increase the property value of a home. People are always on the lookout for buildings with unique features such as solar panels and a green roof and will pay great money for them.
A green roof can also help in the case of a fire at your property. They have a lot of moisture in them and are made from non-flammable growing material, so any potential fire will find it a lot harder to get through a green roof.
Growing Your Own Resources
Some types of green roofs can support the growth of fruits, vegetables and herbs. This way you can grow your own resources, making your life more sustainable.
Planting a green roof can help to increase the biodiversity of an area. With plenty of plant life, this will attract plenty of animal life that may make their home on your roof, including insects and birds. This is especially great if you live in a built-up area where there aren’t a lot of other natural elements.
Decrease Energy Bills & Noise Pollution
Flatter roofs can help to reduce your energy bills, as they don’t trap as much warm air as sloped roofs. They also help to insulate your home from outside noise by absorbing the sound and preventing it from getting inside your home.
Cheaper Roofing Solution
Green roof build and installation is usually a lot cheaper than other roofing types, such as sloped or gabled roofs. This is because they are usually flat and without a lot of angles, making them a lot easier to construct and bringing the cost down considerably.
Plants To Consider
Selecting the right plants is essential to the success of your roof. You should consider the type of roof you’re installing, along with the climate. It is always good practice to choose low-maintenance plants that can survive mainly on rainwater alone and do not require much additional maintenance. For an extensive roof, you want plants with low growth height that have a good growth spread and a high drought tolerance. A great example is succulents, as they are designed to survive in harsh conditions.
For an intensive roof, you can virtually have any plant, as it is easier to maintain them. Make sure any plants you install are not too heavy, as you should be considering the impact of weight on the roof. A lot of people use intensive roofs to grow herbs, vegetables and fruits.
Should I Install A Sedum Roof?
Think about whether you have enough space and the appropriate roof type for a green roof. If you already have a flat or slightly-sloped roof, this is perfect, but if you don’t you would need to make adjustments to make it work. You should also consider the strength of your roof, as a green roof will increase the amount of weight on the roof. For example, an old roof might require a structural upgrade before it can sustain a green roof.
Also, consider the visual impact. Is the green roof going to look great on your property or will it stand out in a bad way? Consider getting some visualisations created beforehand to get a great impression of what it will look like. While it can look great when the plant life is thriving, it may not look this way all year round, so you should think about whether you care that it will not look its best all the time. But also as it is on the roof, the green roof might not be visible so this should be considered. You might want to plant more beneficial but less attractive plant life if the roof will not be visible.
You should consider what your purpose is for installing a green roof. Is it for energy saving purposes or just visual enjoyment? This can impact how you design your green roofing solution. You can commission a study to see the impact of your new roof on the environment or energy bills. Is your building historical or in a preserved area? You may not be allowed to have a green roof installed, or will have to seek out special permission to do so.
Green Roof Construction From James Dunn Roofing
If you’re looking to change your current roof to a living roof, get in touch today with James Dunn Roofing. Our green roof solutions are a perfect environment for plants to thrive on your rooftop, while also keeping your home warm and saving money on your energy bills. They are low maintenance and also help to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, all whilst providing a stylish, modern look for your home.
Trust in us for a family-run business that has been servicing clients throughout Oxfordshire for over 35 years. We can help private homeowners, contractors, councils and more, so give us a call today on 01865 373 614 to get a free quote. We also offer a range of other roofing installations, repairs and renovations, so visit our website now to find out more.