Green Roofs

Comer Roof Top Garden by Charlie Vinz

There is one surface of a building that is often forgotten and unused. Typically a roof has very little to offer beyond keeping the rain out of the building. They are generally extreme in climate becoming very hot during warm months, very cold in the cool months and are usually exposed to higher winds. What if you could transform this space into something habitable or at the very least useful? That is exactly what a green roof does.

There are several different types of green roofs each with a different purpose and goal in mind. All green roofs contribute to environmental sustainability in some way. One of the main functions of the green roof is preventing run off. Roofs that have vegetation absorb more moisture than flat roofs. These roofs keep the water from running off the building into the storm sewers. The water is collected in the soil, used by the plants and transpired back into the atmosphere, which is a much cleaner and more natural process than flowing through the concrete streets of a city.  Many types of green roofs can help prevent run off. Green roofs with this  goal in mind can plant the entire roof with easy to care for succulents. Another benefit of an entire roof covered in plants includes increased energy efficiency, as the roofs act as insulation keeping buildings cooler in hot weather and warmer in cool weather than conventional roofs.

Another use for green roofs is to maximize space and use the roof as an outdoor garden that the inhabitants of the building can enjoy. This can vary from elaborate park like structures to simple container gardens. Anything, including vegetables and trees, can be grown on a roof top with the right materials and care.

Many businesses, houses and other complex are beginning to see the advantages of the green roof.  The Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee, Illinois is one institution that is implementing a green roof on their new addition.  An article on marketwatch.com states:

“‘Riverside Medical Center is committed, not only to the best possible care of our patients, but to also help take care of the planet and reduce our carbon footprint,’ said Phillip M. Kambic, President and CEO of Riverside Medical Center. ‘The Green Roof was designed to help make a positive difference today and for future generations. Patients, visitors and staff will now have an aesthetically pleasing view, rather than that of an unappealing white roof.’ Kambic points out that several research studies have indicated that a natural view can play an important role in improving health”

Not only does the green roof have environmental advangtages, but health advantages as well. In urban spaces, the green roof can provide just what inhabitants need whether it is simply a view that is more beautiful and diverse that a cement roof, or a stroll through an inviting landscape.

A great resource for information regarding green roofs is greenroofs.com.  The website covers topics from the basics of green roofs to projects in existence.

As you find new ways to serve your clients consider implamenting a green roof. This can be a dramatic change or as simple as putting a few containers and some benches in place.  As you look for exciting containers to transform rooftops into green oases consider browsing NewPro Containers’ collection of outdoor containers.

Have you implemented any green roofs? What materials and plants have you found work best? Let us know in the comments.

Fiberglass Planters

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