The Benefits of a ‘Green roof’ for House Energy Efficiency
The looming specter of global warming, just one of the many consequences of pollution, has raised our collective environmental consciousness. Most people are dedicating themselves to doing whatever they can to preserve the precious natural resources necessary to sustain life on our planet. Whether it’s volunteering for community clean-up projects, walking more and driving less, or just recycling, people are changing their behaviors to reflect the reality that our resources are finite.
They are also coming up with some wonderfully creative ways to help preserve them. One of the most creative is the concept of the green roof, which is becoming increasingly popular. A green roof is one that utilizes a high-quality waterproofing
and drainage system that collects rainwater used to water plants. One architect was recently nominated for an award for his ability to integrate green roof technology into his building construction plans, and for good reason.
Reduced Energy Consumption
Research studies published by the National Research Council of Canada showed that a green roof could reduce the demand for air conditioning during the summer months by approximately 75%. Traditional black rooftops retain much more heat. The vegetation on a green roof absorbs light that would otherwise be converted to heat. Heating and cooling systems that aren’t used as much also last longer, which means more cost savings in addition to costs saved on heating and cooling energy bills.
On green roofs, rainwater used by the plants is returned to the atmosphere through evaporation. Depending upon what type of plants are grown, green roofs retain 70 to 90 percent of precipitation during the summer months, and between 20 and 40 percent during the winter months. That means that rainwater is used by plants rather than ending up in storm drains and overtaxing sewer systems.
Besides retaining rainwater, green roofs also act as natural filters for any remaining runoff. They help reduce the distribution of dust and the production of smog. That reduction plays a role in reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. Air and water pollution aren’t the only types that green roofs address, though and reduce pollution in air ducts. They also reduce noise pollution. It’s been estimated that an extensive green roof can reduce outside sound by 40 decibels. As an added bonus, they’re also capable of reducing the electromagnetic radiation produced by cell phone towers by 99.4%.
There is some evidence that green roofs can improve health. One survey found that the number of staff absences due to illness in a building with a green roof were significantly lower than in other nearby buildings. A green roof reduces the extreme fluctuations in temperature that often result in illness. Water retention also prevents the air circulated through heating and cooling ducts from becoming too dry.
Creating diverse ecosystems helps lessen the severity of the consequences of environmental change. The plants on green roofs provide a sustainable habitat for number of species, including invertebrates and birds. Plants play a vital role in our fragile ecosystem. In addition to cleansing the air and water and storing vital nutrients, many are used for medicinal purposes as well. Visual and environmental diversity has also been shown to have positive psychological effects. These positive psychological effects result in business owners being willing to spend more on a building with a green roof.
Europe is leading the way with green roof technology, with many state and local governments providing legislative and financial support to this fast-growing industry. They believe that increasing the number of green roofs is a good strategy for increasing investment opportunities while beautifying the environment. Hopefully, the rest of the world won’t be too far behind.