The term living roof is one that we hear a lot in the roofing world, but can leave uncertainty in its wake. While it seems self explanatory, many aren’t sure of the actual benefits of a living roof for your home, as well as for the environment. Below is a brief outline of exactly what a living or green roof is, as well as how installing one can benefit the environment and your roof.
What is a living roof?
A living roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium. There are three main types of green roofing, intensive, semi-intensive and extensive, each indicating how much planting and maintenance they require. An extensive roof can handle 10 to 25 pounds of vegetation per square foot, intensive roofs aim for 80 to 150 pounds, with semi-intensive falling between those two ranges.
How are they formed?
Typically, a green roof begins with a layer of water and rot proof membrane, like pond liner, stretched across the entire roof to the gutters. The system is then topped with layers for water and soil retention before being topped with a root-growing substrate later, as topsoil is too heavy for the application. Finally, the plants are added. Generally these are local, drought resistant plants to minimise the need for maintenance.
Helping the environment
As we know, one of the key factors to global warming is global warming, which green roofs are ideal for combatting CO2. Green roofs also reduce the need for air conditioning alongside reducing the need for heat in the winter. Both air con and the generation of heat create CO2. Additionally, a green roof helps to improve the overall air quality in the area. Studies have shown that green roofs help to reduce up to 37% of sulfur dioxide, 21% of nitrous acid and 0.2kg of dust particles/square metre every year!
Improving roof lifespans
The roof is a building’s first line of defence against the elements, so between hail, rain and snow your roof will go through a lot in a year. Green roofs offer an opportunity to double, or even triple the life expectancy of your rooftop, as the waterproof membrane is protected by greenery and ensures your roof will last for decades.
Additionally, one of the biggest problems facing a typical roof is poor insulation. This is countered when a living roof is installed, as the plants absorb the energy of the sun, reducing the roof’s temperature in the summer whilst acting as a thermal aid in the winter.
As you can see, installing a living roof has many benefits for the environment and for your roof. Although they aren’t common in the UK right now, we can expect to see an increase in the next couple of years, as the Government put measures in place to ensure that we reach all of our carbon emissions targets. Be sure to ask your local roofers in Sunderland about the prospects of a living roof in the near future.
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