Benefits of Green Roofing
Updated: May 11
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