How Can You Get Involved in Green Roof Projects?

Should you ever use Google Maps to zoom in on your community from an orbital or aerial view, you’ll likely notice that most urban environments are full of rooftops made from gravel ballast, black tar, and asphalt. Heat just gets reflected off of these roofs, and water does not permeate them either.

Green rooftops are an architectural trend that is starting to bust up the monotony that is the common roof. This trend has been popular for a while in Europe, but an increasing number of American businesses, homeowners, and even governments are starting to consider green roofs as a way to bring about environmental awareness while still giving buildings shelter from the elements of weather and nature.

Green roofs can bring about an oasis of vegetation without being disruptive to the surrounding urban infrastructure. In fact, they take an otherwise unused space of available square footage, and make it into something practical and productive.

A properly installed green roof can actually prolong the life of your roof, so despite the initial investment of resources that go into it, there are long-term cost savings to be had from a maintenance perspective. Green roofs also cut down on the energy and utility bills of the structures they sit atop, as they provide a natural source of insulation. They can also reduce moisture damage, since they absorb storm waters and reduce the stress placed on drainage systems. When done on a large scale, green roofs even improve local air quality and cut back on the urban island heat effect that leaves cities several degrees warmer than rural areas.

Green roofs come in intensive and extensive types. Extensive green roofs are lighter, and hold between 15 to 50 pounds per square foot. These are usually just enough for ground cover that is native to the region and doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. The most famous green roof in America is probably the City Hall in Chicago, featuring both intensive and extensive properties.

Intensive green roofs are more interesting. Weighing up to 150 pounds per square foot, they are like elevated parks with trees, paths, and benches.

If you want to start a green roof where you live, you unfortunately have some work cut out for you. Most renters can not do this, and many single-family homes do not have a roof that will support such a project. However, there might be businesses in your area that are considering the concept or are already doing it. Reward
them with your own patronage as much as possible. Also petition your local government to get into the act with its many flat-roofed buildings and properties. Point out how this can be wonderful for schools, and volunteer whenever there is a possibility of participating in such a project.

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