Green roofs represent a growing trend for improving the environment, reducing energy costs and attracting tenants all at the same time. However, it’s important to understand what green roofs actually are and how they can benefit your property. Here is a guide to green roofs to help you make an informed decision about whether a green roof is right for you.

Green Roof Basics
Green roofs introduce a little bit of nature to your property, and at their most basic, include a layer of vegetation across a rooftop with a waterproof membrane to prevent leaks. Green roofs are a popular method for using the natural insulation of plant matter and soil to dramatically increase energy efficiency and save you money. In the winter, they help keep heat locked in and, in the summer, they help keep a rooftop cool due to the layer of plants and soil absorbing excess heat. In addition, green roofs often eliminate the need for expensive drainage systems due to their ability to reduce storm water runoff.
Green roofs are quite the departure from rooftops on most properties, which either feature asphalt, black tar, or another conventional material. The problem with these common rooftops is that they often quickly absorb heat, creating the Urban Heat Island Effect that translates into extremely high energy costs, especially during the summer. Imagine walking across a hot asphalt parking lot in the summer, and you’ll get an idea of what the Urban Heat Island Effect actually is. Since green roofs aren’t exposed to the extreme temperature swings and adverse conditions of conventional roofs, they also tend to last longer.

The Cost of a Green Roof
Green roofs can cost about $15 to $30 per square foot, but that all depends greatly on how complex your green roof will be. There are numerous types of green roofs out there, with complex gardens featuring flowers, shrubs, and even trees. These are the type of green roofs that residents can access and enjoy, and can often significantly raise the value of a property. Other green roofs feature simple hearty plants and ground cover that require little maintenance, and are installed primarily for their energy saving and environmental benefits.

Realizing Savings Through Green Roofs
Green roofs may cost more to install than the typical roof, but they can help you realize savings over the long-term. A number of studies outlined their effectiveness in terms of energy savings. In fact, a University of Michigan study determined that the lifetime costs of a green roof were significantly lower than a conventional roof. Their study compared a conventional roof and a green roof in terms of energy savings that both measured 21,000 square feet. The researchers found that the green roof saved almost $200,000 over its lifetime.

Deciding Whether A Green Roof Is Right For You
If you’re interested in a green roof, it’s important to work with a contractor who has experience in installing a green roof to help you determine whether your property is suitable for hosting one. At the same time, installing a green roof is also about understanding your market and determining whether you believe the investment is worth it for you.
For high-end properties in urban areas like Austin, Portland, or San Francisco, where the environment is often a high priority with the professional class, then a green roof is not only a way to save energy, but also an enticing selling point for potential tenants. However, in terms of energy savings, the practical benefits of a green roof are also clear for nearly every property, which means other areas might benefit from a very basic green roof that requires little maintenance.
Ultimately, green roofs are an excellent way to improve your property and save on energy, and often represent a worthwhile investment. Use the above information to determine whether the benefits of a green roof are right for you.

POSTED April 08 2015 9:44 AM

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