Green Roofs: Old and New
You've probably noticed the trend... Green roofs are becoming incorporated into our built environment at an increasing rate, as evidenced by the growing number of both large and small scale installations in urban, suburban and rural locations, in a wide range of climates.
These systems are modern applications of a centuries-old technology, as seen in the image below of a sod roof at an 18th century farmhouse in Norway.
Such types of 'intensive' vegetated roofs typically need substantial soil depth for larger plants and trees, which, in turn, requires regular maintenance, as well as a building structure that can support the additional weight. However, recent advancements in technology have led to the development of lightweight modular systems that utilize interlocking trays, made of recycled material and prevegetated with plants selected by a local grower with careful consideration of climate, maintenance, and project design goals.
Earlier today, the green roof at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano was completed, with a LiveRoof system generously donated by regional distributor, Florasource, Ltd. The system was finished off with Permaloc GeoEdge, a 100% recyclable, durable and integrated edge restraint made of lightweight recycled aluminum.
The incorporation of this living roof technology with PV panels and green building materials highlights the concept of accessible and community-oriented sustainable design, to serve in alignment with The Ecology Center's educational programs and values.
On Green Roofs: From an aesthetic perspective, green roofs make for an appealing alternative to many traditional roofing systems. Besides the benefits of appearance, vegetated roofs also provide a number of energy-efficient and environmentally responsive advantages for not only a specific project site, but for neighboring properties and communities as well.
Direct environmental benefits include the creation of habitats, absorbtion and filtration of potential stormwater runoff, and the ability to moderate the microclimate. The increased vegetation mitigates the urban heat island effect, as lower ambient daytime temperatures create a more comfortable and healthy surrounding environment, particularly in dense, urban areas. In addition, a planted roof provides for high insulation values at the project site, impacting building energy use and interior occupant comfort.