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Living (Green) Roofs...

What is a Living (Green) Roof?

A living roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems.

Container gardens on roofs, where plants are maintained in pots, are not generally considered to be true living roofs, although this is an area of debate. Rooftop ponds are another form of living roofs which are used to treat greywater.

Also known as “green roofs,” living roofs serve several purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures and combat the heat island effect. There are two types of living roofs: intensive roofs, which are thicker and can support a wider variety of plants but are heavier and require more maintenance, and extensive roofs, which are covered in a light layer of vegetation and are lighter than an intensive green roof

Why a Living Roof?

  • Stormwater Management: Living roofs reduce impermeable surface area. They can retain 65-100% of rainwater thus providing local flood prevention and offset peak flow events by releasing water at a slower rate.

  • Urban Climate Mitigation (reductions in urban heat island effect): Living roofs counter the urban heat island effect by cooling roof surfaces through plant evapotranspiration, shading, and insulation.

  • Reductions in Energy Costs: Living roofs decrease energy costs by reducing thermal loading in summer (roof structure is cooler in summer).

  • Provides Wildlife Habitat: Living roofs contributes to local biodiversity by providing wildlife habitat for insects and birds.

  • Urban Greenspace: Living roofs increases living and green space in congested urban environments. This may be enjoyed visually through a view or physically through a roof garden.

  • Increased Membrane Life: Living roofs increase longevity of roof membranes by blocking UV rays and preventing extreme surface temperature fluctuations which cause membrane degradation. This leads to lower roof costs over time.

  • Improves Air Quality: Living roofs purify the air by absorbing pollutants such as particulate matter from automobiles and factories, pollen, and dust.

  • Adds Aesthetic Value and Increased Quality of Life: Living roofs have a positive impact on people living and working around them. By providing views of nature, living roofs contribute to a person's mental and physical health.

  • Provides Numerous LEED Credits:

    -Stormwater Management Rate Quantity, and Treatment
    -Design to Reduce Heat Islands
    -Water-Efficient Landscaping
    -Optimizing Energy Performance
    -Recycled Content (green roof system components)
    -Local/Regional Materials (green roof components and plants)


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