Do green roofs really work?

green roofing system installed overlooking urban setting

Protection and sustainable roofing

A green roof and sustainability have grown in popularity over recent years as we’ve all become more aware of sustainability. This type of living roof is popular in dense city areas where backyards are scarce, and the occupants of the building want to enjoy some greenery without all the maintenance and upkeep of a yard that comes with a house.

green roof is planted on the roof a building, either completely or partially, and is planted with flowers, plants, and/or vegetables. Some will make their green roof a sitting area and have graveled pathways with benches placed throughout the green roof garden. A waterproofing membrane is positioned and secured first along with a drainage and irrigation system and a root barrier. Some high-rise structures have a green roof and walls, where the roof area is for the fruits and vegetables while the walls are covered with flowers and basic greenery.

What are green roofs used for?

The first thing that needs to be understood is that when it comes to green roof vs cool roof are two different types of roofing with the same goal. Cool roofs reflect the sun’s UV rays and heat back to the atmosphere. A green roof absorbs the heat from the sunlight and stops it from heating the building.

A green roof may be referred to as an eco-roof or a vegetated roof. With a waterproof membrane in place, a green roof is used as a medium for growing fruits, plants, and vegetables in place of having a basic flat roof.

There are many environmental benefits for commercial and public structures to have a green roof:

  • Water quality improves because of reduced runoff from stormwater
  • Water quality improves because there are fewer overflows and runoff
  • Biodiversity is promoted and increases habitat
  • Structure temperature is lowered
  • Less energy consumed
  • Provides a sound absorption on the top floor
  •  It improves air quality

Over the years, the cost to install a green roof has become more economically possible, and as the benefits of lower energy costs have been noticed, it is something that more building owners are considering when their current roofing needs replacing.

 Looking at a 50-year average, building owners can expect a green roof to see an ROI in just over 6 years with the money they’re saving in energy costs. The life expectancy of a green roof is estimated at 40 years, whereas a traditional roof over 17 years.

Can you put a green roof on an existing building?

Many green roof projects are installed on existing buildings. You would need an engineering inspection to make sure the structure can withstand the additional weight of a green roof. Next, you must check with city zoning laws.

Once all of that has been answered, you must have waterproofing installed and a root barrier. If this is something that you’re interested in, it is worth checking into with a qualified roofing contractor. Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility, and a green roof is a step in that direction.

How do you install a green roof?

To install a green roof on a smooth flat surface, you’ll need a multi-layered waterproof barrier for protection between the roof decking and soil. The roof decking can be made of plywood. The multiple layers keep roots from getting to the decking and the barrier keeps water from reaching the decking.

Here is how to get your green roof going:  

  1. Mount a rubber or plastic waterproof membrane over the decking
  2. Next, position a six-millimeter plastic sheet over that waterproof membrane as a barrier for the roots
  3. Add a thin sheet of insulation (three-quarter-inch foam) that is resistant to damp soil
  4. Place a drainage mat with capillary spaces over that with the felt facing up
  5. With mech gutter guards and wood, build a frame around the sides for drainage
  6. Add soil then place your plants
  7. Water the plants for the soil to settle

You’ll need to leave a space for contactor access, such as HVAC and plumbing vents, make sure to leave room around those features.

How long does a green roof last?

By protecting the roof membrane, tending to the plants with feeding, watering, weeding a green roof can last up to 50 years. It can extend the life of the original roof 2 to 3 times longer.

green commercial roof

Do green roofs need maintenance?

A green roof doesn’t need maintenance, and the only attention it needs will depend on what the building owners want from it. Checking it weekly during summer with watering, weeding, and picking your rewards of flowers, fruit, and vegetables. Maybe you don’t live in the middle of a big city in a high-rise structure, but you want to enjoy the benefits of a green roof on your business. Can you have a green roof for a house? Yes, with some forethought and planning first. You’ll need a structural engineer check to make sure your property can handle the weight of a green roof after you have cleared through local ordinance. Call (833) 200-0571 today for your commercial green roof installation in New Orleans, LA.