Realizing the Benefits of Green Roofing
Where do you begin with the benefits of green roofs? Over time, green roof owners, from residential to corporate, have testified to the numerous benefits they have received since installing green roofs on their homes and office buildings. Along with drastic cuts in electric and energy bills, they’ve also experienced longer-lasting durability and an improved aesthetic appeal while helping defend against increased air pollution. Read below to see how green roofing can benefit you, your home and business:
1. Economic benefits (energy costs, tax incentives)
Probably the biggest incentive for installing green roofing is its financial. Converting to green roofing has been found to cut as much as 25% in air-conditioning costs during the summer through a mere 10 centimeters of grass installed onto the roof. This is usually seen over a long-term range, however, as the initial cost of installing green roofing can be quite staggering. Green roofing installation generally comes with a $15 to $20 price tag per square foot as opposed to standard asphalt which is priced at almost $80 per 100 square feet. The best way to think about it is to consider it an investment for future energy costs, as recent economic hardships have shown us that energy resources are finite and rapidly on the decline.
Many states also offer tax breaks or credits for business and home owners who employ green roofing techniques. Homeowners in New York, for example, are eligible to receive a federal tax credit of up to $1,500 for green roofing installation and through the state’s tax abatement program, which also includes solar-paneled roofs.
2. Improved insulation, from sound and temperature regulation
Ever feel like you get home or arrive at the office with the sounds of the outside world trailing behind you? With green roofing, you add another layer of insulation to help keep out the excess noise pollution. This is quite practical for urban areas that experience high volumes of noise throughout the day. Suburban or rural locations can also benefit from green roofing noise reduction against heavy rain and neighborhood traffic.
Green roofing can also help regulate indoor temperatures. Homeowners with green roofs have noticed significant drops in heat during the summer and have found themselves turning on the air conditioner less frequently and at not-as-low temperatures. This can help lower the cost of energy bills significantly and prevent further consumption of toxic coolants and chemicals used to produce and maintain air conditioning.
3. Improved air quality
One of the greatest benefits of having a green roof is its role in improving the overall quality of air. Urban areas that experience several forms of air pollutants (ex. car exhaust, restaurant smoke, cigarette fumes) in a condensed space will especially benefit from having the plants on green roofing constantly supplying fresh oxygen. They are able to do this due to their natural cooling abilities, as cooler temperatures hinder air pollution from accelerating and spreading. One square meter of grass roof can eliminate around 4 pounds of air particles through a natural filtering process.
Looks aren’t everything, but they do count. If the technicalities of green roofing go way over your head, take a look at some examples to better visualize how your home or office could possibly look with a green roof. Modern architecture has found itself pairing green roofs with glassy, mirrored buildings in order to mesh contemporary and natural elements. There are also plenty of options when selecting the plants and flowers to include on your roof. Plants like grass, shrubs, and sedum plants work particularly well on green roofs due to their shallow roots and low maintenance. They are also relatively inexpensive and come in a wide assortment to help you design your green roof to your desires.
5. Food production (for garden roofs)
As if reducing energy costs and noise pollution weren’t enough, green roofing is also a viable location to start a small garden. Granted, not all roofs are suited for garden growing. Flat roofs are obviously the easiest for the gardener to access and tend to the garden, but roofs with a slight slope are not out of the question. Also, not every type of food can be produced on roofs. Seeds that expand into deep roots will be difficult to maintain as they quickly consume resources and take over the soil space. There is also the issue of weight; fruits trees and the other types of arboreal plants which deep, heavy roots will add pressure to the water membrane separating the roof from the soil, causing cracking and leaking. For the maximum benefits of food production on green roofs, stick to smaller produce, such as tomatoes, herbs, and squash.
Article by Lola Pak, a writer from Atlanta, GA, where she enjoys writing about the topic of green roofing.
photo: Ryan Somma.
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