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What is a Green Roof: Residential & Commercial Buildings

These days, the term “green” is synonymous with eco-friendly. When it comes to green roofs, the phrase is being used more literally. A green roof, or a living roof, is a roof that is either partially or totally covered with plants and soil or another growing medium. These may be installed over a traditional roof, or designed for a new construction. So what is a green roof? Green roofing has been around for hundreds of years, and it’s come a long way since its humble beginnings. Technology improvements allow for thinner, lighter weight roofs without sacrificing any of the benefits. Many green roofs are designed as places where people can walk around and enjoy their rooftop garden, and even include fountains and other aesthetic features. 

Others are installed on more traditional sloped roofs, like gable or hip roofs, so that homeowners can take advantage of the many benefits they can offer your home. What is a gable roof? It has long been the most prominent style of roof in the country, and it can be recognized by the signature triangle wall shape it makes under the two peaks where the slopes meet. So what is a hip roof? A hip roof has a slope going down each wall of the house to maximize the support on a roof. What is a roof pitch? A roof pitch is the measurement of the roof’s rise for every 12” of depth. This measurement is an important consideration when building a roof because the roof slope can determine the ease of roof maintenance later on. It can also determine the type of material that should be used such as metal roofing or shingle roofing materials. 

Why Go Green?

A green roof can do a lot more than provide a distinct, natural beauty to your home.
The greenery also provides protection from the elements. UV light, wind, hail, and falling debris can all degrade your roofing materials and cause a lot of damage over time. A green roof can triple the life expectancy of your roof. 

The vegetation and growing medium are excellent at absorbing excess moisture. This can significantly reduce stormwater runoff, which will protect you from a soggy, muddy mess around your house. This will also protect the waterproof roof membrane under your home. If more homes utilized green roofing in areas with a lot of rainfall, it can make a dramatic impact on flooding. The extra vegetation can also improve air quality in your city, and it can also dramatically reduce the urban heat island effect. Hot roofs lead to hotter streets, but by adding more vegetation you can filter pollutants from the air and keep the buildings cooler with much less energy.  

The plant life on your green roof keeps the temperature much cooler, so they help solar panels installed on your roof operate more efficiently. It also acts as a natural fire retardant and insulates your home from loud noises. 

Extensive Green Roof vs Intensive Green Roof

An Extensive green roof is most commonly found on single-family homes. They are designed to be lightweight, low profile, and maximize energy efficiency and water use. Ideally, these will be designed with native plants that rarely, if ever, need to be watered after it’s established. The most basic of these designs are sod roofs, which were the most common type of roof found in Norway until the 20th century.

An Intensive green roof uses deeper soil that will allow much larger plants and more diverse landscaping. These are much more common on commercial buildings where the occupant wants to maximize their space, and where there is very little or no roof slope. What is roof slope? Roof slope is the angle at which the roof raises off the top of your home. 

However, they can also be great for residential roofing options with limited yard space. Intensive roof gardens are a great way to have an urban garden for fresh fruits and veggies. The added height means you’ll get more sunlight and have a lot fewer pests to deal with. The major drawback is they will require much more maintenance to keep your garden thriving. Commercial building owners may also want to consider going green and choosing an eco-friendly green roof for their commercial roofing needs. 

What to Consider Before Installing a Green Roof

Before you commit to a green roof project, you should have your current roofing inspected to make sure it’s in good enough shape to support the extra weight. A roofer can identify problems with your existing roof quickly, and determine if repairs or replacement are necessary before moving forward. 

Green roofs can get very heavy, and you may need to build additional support into your existing roof deck to support the load. Green roofs are more expensive than a traditional roof, but over time, the energy savings and extended lifespan of your roof will generally make up for the initial cost of installing them. 

Even an extensive roof will require maintenance. Some designs allow for weeds to take over your roof’s lawn, which can lead to unattractive plants, and some of them have root systems that can grow through the protective barriers and damage your roof, which can lead to leaks. It’s best to have a professional roofer perform routine maintenance on a green roof, and use a medium that isn’t conducive to local weeds. 

Hire a Professional Roofer

Preman Roofing Solar is here to help with all your roofing needs. If you want to transition to a green roof system, we can help you every step of the way. Our roofing experts can inspect your home, talk to you about the benefits of the different styles of roofing, and design your new roof to meet all of your needs. 

We only use the highest caliber roofing materials, and all of our work is backed by our guarantee. Our team has helped with San Diego roofing for more than 20 years, and our success is built on quality customer service and craftsmanship. Contact us today for a free estimate, or to learn more about a green.