Growing Trend: Green Roofs

Green RoofOne of the fastest growing trends in the landscape industry is the utilization of green roofs, often in urban environments. Green roofs are defined as a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. Although green roofs might seem like a recent trend, they have been around, in one form or another, for hundreds of years. They have been used around the world because of their numerous benefits, both to individual building owners and society as a whole.

Most early versions of green roofs were utilized in Iceland and Scandinavia. In these areas of the world, natural resources for roofing were scarce. Rather than using layers and layers of wood for their roofs, they would use a single layer of wood and put natural vegetation, like grasses and shrubs, on top of their roofs. The modern version of the green roof first appeared in the 1960’s in Germany. Initially utilized to help combat storm-water issues, green roofs were popular in Europe long before they appeared in the United States.

There are two main types of green roofs. The first type is called an intensive green roof. These roofs contain at least 5 inches of soil and will support a wide variety of plant types. They are, however, quite heavy and require quite a bit of maintenance. The other type of green roof is called an extensive green roof. This type of green roof contains only 1 to 5 inches of soil, meaning that it can only support certain types of plants. They are lighter than the intensive style green roof and require less maintenance.

Green Roof with Skyline in BackgroundWith numerous benefits, it is easy to see why the green roof trend has taken off in the United States in the last 10-15 years. First, green roofs help reduce water run off during rain storms. According to a study cited by the EPA, water runoff is reduced by 75% on buildings that have green roofs. The green roof also helps to filter whatever water runoff does occur. Second, green roofs help improve the air quality in the surrounding environment. The plants help to filter noxious gases and help to capture airborne pollutants in the air. Third, a green roof will greatly improve a building’s energy efficiency. According to research from the National Research Council of Canada, an extensive green roof can reduce air conditioning use by 75% during the summer months. Finally, green roofs have the added benefit of increasing a community’s green space. This is very important in urban areas, where green space is at a premium. Green roofs can be used as recreational spaces, like playgrounds, or can be used as community gardens.

As the leader in innovation and landscape design in Indianapolis, Engledow Group has extensive experience with green roofs. We have installed and continue to maintain green roofs throughout Indianapolis. If you would like to speak with one of our experts about an upcoming project, or would just like more information on green roofs, please contact us at (317) 575-1100 or fill out the contact form below.

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