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Benefits of Green Roofing

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

As cities continue to grow and expand, urban environments are becoming more common. However, with these developments, come a multitude of environmental problems, such as air pollution, heat islands, and water runoff. To tackle these issues, green roofs have emerged as a viable solution. Green roofs, or rooftops covered in vegetation, provide a range of benefits for both the environment and human health. Let's explore some of the benefits of green roofs for cities and why they are an essential solution for a sustainable future...




1. Reduces Urban Heat Islands

Urban heat islands occur when buildings, concrete, and asphalt absorb and store heat, causing the temperature in cities to rise compared to surrounding areas. This phenomenon can lead to several heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and dehydration. With green vegetation across a roof, we can mitigate urban heat islands by absorbing and releasing water through transpiration and evaporation, which cools the surrounding air, and supports the 'small water cycle'. In turn, this reduces the need for air conditioning, which reduces energy consumption and further energy pollutants.

2. Improves Air Quality

Air pollution is a major problem in urban areas and can lead to respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Greening the roof of a building can reduce air pollution by absorbing pollutants and particulates including nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. In addition, the plants on green roofs produce oxygen, which improves air quality.

3. Provides Habitat for Wildlife

Green roofs provide habitats for a range of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. They create corridors for animals to move through cities, and they can be a critical source of food and shelter for pollinators. Green roofs are an essential component of urban biodiversity and help to maintain healthy ecosystems.

4. Reduces Stormwater Runoff

In urban areas, large amounts of rainwater run off impervious surfaces such as rooftops, roads, and sidewalks. This is a stark contrast to the natural world. This runoff can lead to flash floods, erosion, and water pollution. Green roofs reduce stormwater runoff by absorbing and retaining some of the rainwater, which reduces the volume and velocity of water that reaches the ground. In turn, this can even contribute to a reduced risk of flooding and improved water quality.

5. Can Be Installed on Both New and Existing Buildings

Green roofs can be installed on building old or new, making them a flexible solution for urban areas. This technology can be designed to accommodate different types of plants, from low-maintenance sedums to herbaceous perennials and shrubs. This flexibility allows for customization to meet the needs of specific buildings and environments.

Ultimately, green roofs are a powerful solution whose time is long past due. Culturally, it often feels like we are 'waiting around' for some top-down government-induced initiative, or a magic silver-bullet technology, or enough of society to miraculously adopt lifestyles that produce no waste.


It's human nature for us to want the answers to be 'externalized'. By repeating the belief that someone with 'more power' than us needs to solve things...we are subtly disempowering ourselves.


Living an earth conscious life means we explore the belief that the real evolution might happen when more of us ask:


Why are we not using the solutions that already exist? Embracing the 'lower-tech' solutions like green roofing can provides a range of benefits, from reducing urban heat islands and improving air quality to providing habitats for wildlife and reducing stormwater runoff. As cities continue to grow and develop, green roofs offer an essential tool for combating the environmental problems that arise from urbanization. By investing in green roofs, we can create healthier, more resilient cities that benefit both people and the planet. If you want to learn more, or get plans and ideas to encourage a building owner, or someone in your city to install a green roof...go to greenroofs.org


Rain Garden


As an alternative to a green roof, building a rain garden is an excellent way to help manage stormwater runoff and improve the health of your local ecosystem. Here are some reasons why you should consider building a rain garden:

  • Rain gardens help to absorb and filter rainwater runoff to reduce the risk of flooding in your area.

  • The plants and soil in a rain garden can filter pollutants from the water, including nitrogen and phosphorus.

  • Rain gardens can provide a habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects.

  • Save money on costly stormwater infrastructure projects, such as sewer upgrades.

  • They can provide a beautiful addition to your property.

This complete and thorough article: A Guide to Building and Maintaining a Self-Sufficient Rain Garden, shows you the benefits and how it works, including expert tips to help you build and maintain your own rain garden.

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