An aerial view of a standard city or neighborhood usually shows a sea of rooftops made of asphalt, concrete, and tar. What a beautiful world we would live in if those bleak rooftops were covered with lush, green vegetation. Let us introduce you to a roof idea, a rooftop lawn with sound minimization, and a live green landscape.
Green roofs, just like the name suggests, are a rooftop lined with greenery. A green roof is an extension of the existing roof that involves multiple layers: a durable waterproofing and root repellent system, a stormwater drainage system, filter cloth, a lightweight growing medium, and a variety of plants, like succulents, vegetables, trees, shrubs or perennials.
The addition of vegetation to a roof is not only beautiful, but it changes the barren landscape of conventional roofs into useful space. For example, standard roofs allow rain to rush over the hard surfaces and onto the street without vegetation. Stormwater run-off can cause serious issues for property damage and leads to pollutants in our local water systems. In summer, green roofs can retain up to 90% of precipitation and 40% in winter.
Reducing stormwater run-off is only one perk of a roof lawn. Green roofs come with many benefits — both for the environment and your wallet!
Top 10 Reasons You Need A Green Roof
Like all green infrastructure practices, there are more benefits to green roofs than being aesthetically pleasing. Green roofs come with many environmental and economic benefits, here are 10:
1. Last longer and prevent leaks. Green roofs protect underlying roof finish which last three to five times longer than conventional roofs. The thick layers protect roofs from UV rays and extreme temperatures which over time cause damage and leaking.
2. Significant energy savings. Green roofs provide insulation and help keep buildings cold in the summer and warm in the winter. This leads to significant energy savings. Research published by the National Research Council of Canada found that an extensive green roof reduced the daily energy demand for air conditioning in the summer by over 75%
3. Property value and curb appeal. Green roof houses, like other forms of green infrastructure, are beautiful and increase property value. For example, in New York City, apartments with green rooftop gardens had about 16% higher rental fees than buildings without green roof space. The same goes for residential property owners, and green roofs can boost property value by 15%.
4. Beautiful space to enjoy. Many green roofs offer new areas to be appreciated that are beautiful and improve quality of life. These new spaces can be a peaceful retreat for both people and animals. Add a patio and chairs for an urban oasis and say hello to any visiting birds since green roofs provide new habitats for wildlife. So while most people call it a green roof, it is more like a rooftop garden.
5. Incentive opportunities make green roofs affordable. Green roofs also offer benefits to cities–which helps you out too! Cities benefit from less stormwater run-off, lower energy use, cleaner air, higher property values – the list goes on. That is why local municipalities offer incentives for property owners to install green roofs. In D.C., for example, you can get green roofs for up to 50% off with incentives.
6. Compatibility with solar panels. A green roof house can be integrated with solar panels and increase their efficiency. Green roofs reduce the temperature of your roof, and this improves the performance of photovoltaic cells. Additionally, incorporating green roofs with solar panels allows you to stack available incentives and rebates.
7. Noise filter. Green roofs can reduce sound from outside by up to 50 decibels. Replace annoying honking and construction noise with quiet.
8. Fire retardant. Green roofs have a much lower burning heat load (the heat generated when a substance burns) than conventional roofs, reducing fire risk to the building.
9. Leads to LEED Certification. Green roofs lead to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for your building. In DC, for example, LEED certification is required for all new construction and significant renovation of the larger federal district and commercial buildings. Commercial green roofs are built very similarly to residential green roofs and so incorporating a green roof into the design of a new construction project saves time and money. Additionally, in many jurisdictions, LEED certification means tax breaks and other financial incentives.
10. Reduce urban heat island effect. Cities are significantly hotter than surrounding areas, and this is called the Urban Heat Island Effect. Buildings absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat increasing temperatures, but plants absorb heat and provide shade. Green roof temperatures can be 30–40°F lower than conventional roofs and can reduce city-wide ambient temperatures by up to 5°F. Green roofs can also help reduce the distribution of dust and pollutants throughout the air, which reduces air pollution and smog.
Green Rooftop Incentives
Considering the many exceptional benefits of installing a green roof, it may not be a surprise that green roofs typically cost more than conventional roofs. This becomes the most challenging thing about green roofs: the upfront costs. The benefits make up for the price increase, but what’s even better is the availability of green roof incentives, which can reduce costs significantly. In D.C., for example, rebates can reduce the cost of green roofs up to 50%. This allows property owners to install a green roof at a comparable price to a conventional roof and enjoy the benefits that come with green roofs! And many are–there are 2.3 million square feet of green roofs in D.C. within just 69 square miles.
Green roofs aren’t just for commercial projects either. Homeowners also can install a green roof, enjoy the new curb appeal and the economic benefits! And there are many incentives and rebates available for you to drive the costs down.
WHAT CAN RAINPLAN DO TO HELP
Rainplan can help you access incentive funding and handle all the hard work from start to finish. Rainplan’s online database streamlines the incentive process and keeps everything organized. Read from one of our customers about her process of installing a green roof on her home.
Our experts run a free analysis on your property to determine your return on investment before suggesting solutions. If a green roof is right for you, we handle the incentive process and connect you with one of our reputable green roof installers. We do the hard work of diving through vetted contractors and ensuring an open and responsive workflow. You get to enjoy a new beautiful green roof at a reduced price with no compromise in value and benefits!
Start by signing in to discover which incentives are available to you.