There are many ways to lower your utility bills, but how can you save money while also doing something to help out your community and the environment? The answer? Living roofs!
What is a living roof? Also known as green roofs, it’s a building’s roof that is either partially or fully covered in vegetation. These roofs can be retro-fitted to existing structures or be part of the planning on new construction, both residential and commercial.
The type of vegetation used depends on the climate. These roofs require a depth of soil or compost that is determined by the type of vegetation to be grown and the pitch of the roof, but can be designed with as little as a few inches.
Living roofs not only give your building a unique look, but are also highly efficient energy savers reducing both heating and cooling costs. The magnitude of cost savings varies with location, type of greenery used and other factors, but yearly savings of 20 to 50 percent have been reported.
These environmentally friendly roofs also act to reduce the amount of warming to its surroundings. Fully exposed roofing materials, such as asphalt and concrete, tend to absorb and then reradiate heat energy whereas the vegetation of a living roof greatly reduces these effects. This reduction in turn reduces the so-called ‘urban heat island effect.’
Studies have shown that plants lower air pollutants as part of photosynthesis, creating lowered ground ozone. That means cleaner air for you and your community! Living roofs also reduce the rate and quantity of storm water runoff. This lightens the burden on municipal drainage systems, particularly during intense rainfall.
Initial costs of installing a living roof vary by climate, the type of design and vegetation used, but generally ranges from $8 to $25 per square foot. Despite this substantial initial investment, living roofs continue to enjoy growing popularity in the U.S. with Chicago, Atlanta and Portland, Ore., as well as other cities leading the way by offering tax breaks and other building permit incentives to encourage their installation.
For more information on living roofs, click here.
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The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team