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Commercial Roofing: The Benefits of Green Roof Systems

The green movement spawned a new kind of roofing system that combines soil, plants, and other natural elements to form a rooftop ecosystem. Popular in many areas, green commercial roofing systems (a.k.a. natural systems) are quickly becoming the preferred alternative to conventional systems that do not weather well, and saddle building owners with high roofing repair bills. If you intend to implement a green roof, below are seven reasons to move forward with your plans:

Improved Storm Water Management

Green systems improve storm water management by storing water in the substrate, where it is absorbed by plants, and then returned to the atmosphere by transpiration and evaporation. By retaining storm water, a natural roof can help extend the lifespan of drainage systems by reducing the volume of water they receive. Research shows that a natural system can retain up to ninety percent of the rain that falls on them.

Reduced Ambient Heat

In the summer, a roof can be a major source of unwanted heat; as it absorbs sunlight, it produces heat energy that is transferred to the interior of the building. Natural systems prevent this from happening by absorbing sunlight without transferring it to the interior. Research shows that a natural roof can reduce the demand for air conditioning by up to seventy-five percent.

Improved Energy Efficiency

The more insulation its roof contains, the less heat a building loses in the winter, and a natural roof serves as an extra layer of insulation. If your building’s annual utility bill is too high, implementing a green system can help bring it back under control.

Reduced Repairs

Because natural systems are “self-sustaining,” they typically require fewer repairs than conventional commercial roofing. If you need to save money on roofing repair, implementing a natural system can help you do it.

Improved Building Value

At a time when eco friendly buildings are preferred over buildings that use conventional technology, installing a green roof can increase the value of a building to potential buyers. A green roof can also increase the real estate value of a building by improving its energy efficiency.

Attractive to Employees

In urban environments where outdoor greenery is scarce, buildings that have a natural roof can help companies attract and retain employees. According to research, a green roof can make employees easier to recruit and reduce employee turnover. If you need to reduce the cost of recruiting or training new employees, implementing a green roof can help.

Noise Reduction

Depending on their construction, green roofs can reduce outside noise by up to 50 decibels. The interiors of urban buildings are prone to an influx of low frequency noise caused by transport systems, automobiles, and industrial work. Green systems excel at providing a barrier to this noise.

Conclusion

If you need a commercial roofing system, implementing a natural system may be the best option. In addition to improving the aesthetics of your building, a green roof can improve storm water management, reduce ambient heating, improve energy efficiency, reduce the cost of roofing repair, improve building value, attract employees, and reduce noise.

What You Need to Know About Green Roofs

The global impact of climate change has created an age of environmentalism where new technologies are constantly being developed to limit the negative impact we have had on the world around us. It should come as no surprise that these technologies have been utilized in a wide range of industries including home building and roofing. For example, a growing interest in green roofs represent an alternative that is ecologically advanced compared to traditional roofing systems.

This unique type of roof represents a system that involves optimal waterproofing, a root repellant system, a drainage system, filter cloth, and growing medium for plants and vegetation. Green roofs are flexible and versatile, and while some may be modular with all the basic elements already prepared in movable components, they may also be a fixed structure that represents a contained green space on top of a home or building. Essentially, a green roof is one that is at least partially covered with vegetation that is planted over a waterproof membrane, root barrier, and drainage and irrigation systems.

While relatively new to the North American builder, green roofs are very well-established in Europe. As such, it important to disseminate the benefits; and we should also encourage governments to promote the use of these systems through grant or tax incentives as well as education.

There are multiple benefits to green roofs including aesthetic and environmental benefits. First of all, most look very attractive. While somewhat more costly than traditional roofing types, they are an easy and effective method for making urban spaces more beautiful. Moreover, they are a sustainable investment opportunity that helps to improve many aspects of the environment besides its aesthetic. Green roofs contribute to waste diversion as they improve the lifespan of roofing membranes while also utilizing recycled materials for the growing medium. In addition, they have positive impacts on the lifespan of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems by reducing heat loss/gain in buildings and the need for excess heating or cooling.

Another important benefit relates to stormwater management. Water is stored in the substrate of the roof where it is ultimately used by the plants and returned to the atmosphere via transpiration and evaporation. Green roofs can retain 70-90% of precipitation in summer and 25-40% in winter. Plus, while retaining rainwater, these roofs moderate the temperature of the water and filters water runoff. This means that less stormwater is taxing sewers, and the stormwater that enters the sewers is also cleaner.

Green roofs also help to improve the air quality in a city. The plants found on them capture pollutants and filter noxious gases while taking CO2 from the atmosphere and replacing it with oxygen. Ultimately, green roofs are a great way to improve our lives while also improving the environment.

Green Roofing Systems for Urban Buildings: An Overview

Historically, the roofing on urban buildings has had a minor impact on how people perceive them; it is the architecture – not its covering – that makes the biggest impression. The trend of green roof systems (a.k.a. natural roofs) on urban buildings is changing that phenomenon. Today, urban buildings across the U.S. are installing roofs that seem more like an interpretation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon instead of what we normally think of as a rooftop, and urbanites are taking notice. 

City dwellers have long had garden roofs-small vestiges of greenery in an otherwise commercial landscape. The term “garden” is not a fair descriptor of a green option. Though similar in appearance, garden and green roofs are technically different.

Green Roofs versus Garden Roofs: 

A garden roof is what it sounds like: a garden located on a rooftop, with the vegetation usually planted in pots. Natural roofs, on the other hand, have a covering of vegetation that grows in soil. Unlike the garden option, they require landscaping and a unique approach to water drainage. Depending on the depth of their soil, they could also require more structural support than a standard roof. 

For most building owners, the initial selling point of a green roof is the types of greenery it supports. Depending on their design, green roofs can support small trees, shrubbery, and other vegetation that you might find suburban backyards. With branches and grasses that toss in the wind, the roofs allow office workers to take a convenient step into nature on their lunch break-a benefit that leads some workers to choose employers who have green roofing systems over employers who do not.

Two Types of Green Roofs:

A commercial roofing company that installs naturally can install two types of green systems: intensive systems, which feature deep soil (at least 30 cm), and extensive systems, which feature shallower soil. With its ability to support trees and shrubbery:

  • An intensive system is usually implemented for aesthetic reasons
  • An extensive system is often implemented for environmental purposes.

Each system has benefits and drawbacks.

An intensive system can add significant weight to the roof of a building, which could require additional structural support. An extensive system can avoid this issue, but like an intensive system, the cost can easily exceed the price of a standard roof. Offsetting these drawbacks are the following facts: 

  • Natural roofs can lower roof maintenance, repair costs, and save energy
  • They can improve waste-water management
  • They increase a building’s value
  • They offer excellent environmental benefits
  • They offer great aesthetic value and meet a very human need for living things no standard roof can match

Is a Green Roof Right for Your Building?

Implementing a green roof requires careful consideration of two aspects-your roof’s weight bearing capacity, and what you wish to accomplish through installation. If you are interested in roofing systems that help the environment and offer long-term financial incentives, a green roof could be the best choice. Before you decide, consult with a commercial roofing company that has experience installing in buildings that resemble yours.