As population, growth, and urbanization continue to replace land with concrete, there is a serious need to recover green space. It is essential for maintaining environmental quality and improving the earth’s landscape. Installing green roofs is one of the best options for reducing the environmental impact of urban development while, at the same time, offering many unique benefits to building owners.
Although there are initial costs associated with installing a green roof, it is well worth the economic benefits. Not only can a green roof improve property values and marketability, over the lifespan of the roof (40 to 60 years) it can save property owners around $200,000.
Green roofs are advantageous to both the environment and building owners. Here are 6 benefits of green roofs all property owners should consider.
#1: Energy Cost Savings
For building owners, one of the greatest benefits of a green roof is the reduction in energy. In the summer, green roofs protect buildings from direct solar heat. This means green roofs use less energy for cooling, therefore, driving down costs for electricity. A six-inch extensive green roof can reduce summer energy demands by more than 75%, according to a study by the National Research Council of Canada.
During the winter, green roofs minimize heat loss by adding insulation, which leads to less heating costs. Even more so, shading the outer surface of a building is more effective than internal insulation. A six-inch extensive green roof can reduce summer energy demands by more than 75%, according to a study by the National Research Council of Canada.
A green roof can help reduce the urban heat island effect. It works by the process of evapotranspiration, which uses heat from the air to evaporate water, according to the Center for Green Roof Research. In New York City, the daily minimum temperature is 7.2 degrees (F) warmer compared to the rest of the state. This is due to a large number of impervious surfaces absorbing solar radiation and re-radiating it as heat.
#2: Expanded Roof Life
A green roof can increase the life expectancy of a roofing system. It does this by protecting roofing materials from extreme temperatures and direct ultra-violet radiation.
The result is less maintenance and a longer lifespan, which is two to three times greater than a standard roof. This means a roof could conceivably last for 60 years.
#3: Dead Space into Garden Space
Cities have little room to spare, and most buildings cannot afford to waste workable space in an area for employees to relax and hang out. However, adding a green roof solves both challenges.
Adding a green roof to an office or apartment building carries benefits of its own, that can include:
- Lounge and recreational space
- Meeting space
- Improved aesthetic for neighbors in adjacent buildings
- Rooftop gardens
#4: Up to 41 LEED Credits
According to VegetaLi.D, a green roof can help building owners earn up to 41 potential LEED credits under five major categories.
- Sustainable Sites: Building owners have the potential to earn six out of 14 points for protecting or restoring habitat (2), stormwater design (2), and heat island effect (2).
- Water Efficiency: There is a potential to earn four points by reducing water efficiency landscaping by
- 50% (2) and not using potable or irrigation water (4).
- Materials and Resources: Property owners can earn six out of 11 points through construction waste management (2), recycled content (2), and regional materials (2).
- Energy and Atmosphere: Earn up to 19 points by using a green roof to establish minimum energy efficiency.
- Innovation and Design Process: Earn up to five points by using a green roof to qualify for innovation and design credits.
#5: Noise Reduction
Green roofs also have important acoustical benefits. Plants help to build diffract waves, which ultimately reduces noise levels. This is an especially popular benefit for those living or working in urban areas. Given the density of green roofs, they provide increased sound insulation to a roof system. This reduces outside noises such as planes flying over the building, traffic noises, construction noises, etc.
#6: Improved Storm Water Management
According to a study by Pennsylvania State University, green roofs capture up to 80% of rainfall during storms compared to 24% for a typical roof. The ability to capture stormwater only continues to improve as plants mature and root systems grow. Green roofs also help neutralize acid rain and create a filter to trap dust and airborne particles.
Green roofs are an environmental solution to urban sprawl that cleans the air, reduces the stress on a cities infrastructure, reduces the energy cost to building owners and provides outdoor living space to building occupants all while beautifying an otherwise underutilized heat island.
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