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By Jason Hook on Dec 23, 2016 7:02:00 AM

Eco-Friendly: The Green Roof Guide

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The most rewarding thing a building company can do is to leave a legacy. Long after we’re all gone, if the city is a better, more beautiful and sustainable place because of us, we’ve done our jobs well. If we can influence the lives of future residents in a positive way, then we’ve left a lasting impression on the land and people. 

Building companies are achieving this by harnessing sustainable technologies (like green roofs) and partnering with city governments to change the cultural and visual landscapes of their environment. 

Below we look into green roofs in more detail, offering a helpful guide on how the technology works and how you can use it in future projects.

  

What is a Green Roof?

So much energy is wasted by having traditional roofs. Heat hits your roof all day, only to radiate off and be lost. The same is true for rain, which runs off the hard (hopefully watertight) surfaces, and adds to wastage. Green roofs are designed to solve these problems. 

The design, sometimes referred to as a cool roof, has been popular in Europe and is starting to spread across the globe. Not only is it visually attractive, it also offers significant environmental, economic and social benefits, making it an excellent use of space. 

 

What Are the Benefits of Green Roofs? 

Green roofs reduce energy costs by providing your building with natural insulation, as well as absorbing storm water, thus lessening the burden on drainage systems. 

While green roofs may be initially more expensive than conventional roofs, you’ll save money in the long run. As shown by a study in Canada, the technology has been found to reduce summer energy consumption by up to 75%. And importantly, green roofs can last up to two times longer than conventional roofs. As green roofs become more popular, the price will drop and we’re likely to see an increase in uptake.

Another benefit of green roofs is the role they can play in reducing the urban heat island effect. The density of populations and buildings in urban areas creates micro-climates, which experience significantly higher temperatures, lower rainfall and increased susceptibility to natural disasters.

For example, research shows that average temperatures in Melbourne’s CBD are over 4 degrees higher than neighbouring suburbs, and it can be up to 12 degrees higher in summer. Considering that Melbourne experiences approximately 200 heat-related deaths each year, this is particularly important. Green roofs absorb heat and reduce this effect, and thus green roofs are at the forefront of many councils’ plans to combat rising temperatures.

  

What Types of Green Roofs are There?

There are two main types of green roofs: intensive and extensive.

Intensive green roofs are essentially parks on top of buildings, and obviously better-suited to commercial structures. They can have trees, plants, walkways, benches or even sports fields. This is made possible by complex structural support, irrigation, drainage and root protection layers, all of which lay on a waterproof membrane. Thus, these layers can be heavy, requiring stronger structural support.

On the other hand, extensive green roofs are relatively light, and cannot support the same level of structures. Instead, they most often feature native ground cover that requires little maintenance, functioning more for their environmental benefits than as accessible rooftop gardens.

Green roofs are a powerful tool to ensure our cities are sustainable in the future. They play an important role as instruments of insulation, heat and water absorption, significantly reducing energy consumption and alleviating the urban heat island effect. So, get on board and be a part of the change for better buildings and ensure you leave a legacy you can be proud of.

For more on building eco-friendly commercial property, download our 12 Tips Guide and see where you can make your mark:

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