Green roofs can be installed on any buildings, from industrial facilities to private residences. They do not have to be complex. Some green roofs are simply a 2-inch covering of hardy groundcover. Others are fully accessible parks with large trees and shrubs. It really all depends on how much weight your roof can bear safely.
A little-known added benefit to having a green roof is enhanced storm water management and increase water quality. The layer of vegetation on the roof slows down storm water runoff in urban areas, especially, and also filters pollutants from the rainfall.
In the short run, green roofs cost more to install than conventional roofs, running somewhere between US$10 – US$25 per square foot. Annual maintenance on the roofs, however, costs about the same for either roof, ranging from US$0.75 to US$1.50 per square foot. As a result, initial installation of the green roof may cost more, but in the long run, the money can be recovered in the savings you would realize in heating and cooling costs in the future.
In addition to savings in heating and cooling costs, having a green roof also saves in construction costs. People have found that green roofs lasts more than twice as long as conventional ones. For some, that can be a huge savings in roof replacement costs.
Many researchers in a variety of communities are beginning to perform detailed, full life-cycle analyses of green roofs, especially in urban areas. Advanced technology has a huge hand in making living roofs possible. Waterproof membranes are now making it easier for architects and builders to design green roof systems, which capture water for irrigation, allow drainage, resist root invasions, and support the growing medium.
As humans benefit from green roofs, so can other creatures in nature. In a sense, you are giving back to nature what you took away to build on to begin with. A variety of species, large and small, can benefit from your green roof. Ants, beetles, spiders, birds, etc. can benefit from living roofs.
Green roofs are certainly something for all of us to consider as we think about not only saving money, but also decreasing the carbon footprint we are leaving behind. A living roof can not only benefit people, but can also be a safe haven for the animals we have displaced for our own conveniences.