Green roofs are such a simple idea that’s when people see one for the first time the common response is, “Gee, what a neat idea!!” Although Europe got a head start of the US in the idea of living roofs, AKA:”Green Roofs”, the US is catching up. The Green Roof idea is applicable to pretty much any type of building…. big or small, private or public, home or commercial.
Green roofs date at least back to the early Vikings who used to use live sod for the roofs of some of their homes. Today you can see their descendants on the Faroe Islands using the same basic idea. But modern technology has truly expanded what’s possible with the idea of plants growing on roofs.
A leading expert, Tony of a Toronto Commercial Roofing Company revealed the 5 of the latest ideas in green roof technology and usage that you might not be aware of. Some of these particular products are somewhat high-tech and branded and a couple are pretty generic but the ideas all make common sense and could be utilized in other ways too:
Number One: Roof Blocks:
Green Roof Blocks are tray-like, modular containers full of a specially formulated soil into which live plant seedlings are planted. They can be ordered from the factory with plant-plugs already started or the purchaser can implant their own. Over time the plants grow and the visual effect is stunning.
The modules are fabricated, planted and initially cultivated in nurseries and then shipped to the buyer. They come in a standard size and can be arranged in various configurations, laterally, over whatever part of the roof you want. This particular innovation in green roof technology cannot be applied over a radius but The Green Pack mentioned below can be.
Number Two: Green Packs:
This technology is something called a Green Pack. It’s basically a bag of soil into which plants are plugged and grow. Rather than being aluminium, like the Roof Blocks mentioned above, these containers are polyester bags resemble bags of wheat or rice except that they’re a bit thinner…. about 4” thick. To protect the roof from moisture build-up and/or mold growth, a drainage layer and root barrier are laid down first then the Green Packs are laid out over them, then the plant plugs are put in. Both the Roof Blocks and these Green Packs have handles that make them easy to carry and put where you want them. In both cases, after a few seasons of growth, the trays or bags become invisible and the growth looks very natural and totally beautiful.
Number Three: Green Roof Pavers:
Another option for a ‘green roof’ is something called a ‘green roof paver’. These look similar to the paving stones often used by landscapers but these items are unique in that they’re made 100% from recycled tires. That’s why they’re considered ‘green’.
They come in two colors, in 24” squares which can also be easily cut with a power saw and configured into any variety of design desired. Often they are used in conjunction with the Roof Blocks or Roof Packs mentioned above.
Number Four: Roof Tables:
In Egypt they’ve come up with a unique idea for turning green roofs into productive agricultural areas. Rather than letting the plants actually grow ‘on’ the roof, with the resultant worries about moisture, they decided to put the plants on tables placed on the roofs and then cultivate actual product on them. The plants of course can then be sold. Or, if it’s on a home rooftop, the product is either consumed by the occupants or sold.
The only problem with roof table is that you’d want to take them down in stormy weather because they could become a safety hazard.
Number Five: Rain Guarded Roofs:
Another idea for green roofs has to do with capturing the huge amount of rainwater that falls on a roof and runs off. Rain Guards are simply rubber edging that keeps rainwater within the planted areas of roofs. Excess accumulation can be drained off via a simple valve but usually evaporation will take care of anything the plants and/or the soil doesn’t absorb.
These are just a few ideas for putting the concept of a ‘green roof’ to work. You can of course do some research on your own but a better idea would be to take a trip to your local nursery and see when kind of advice they can give you. Then you can always talk to any of your home-builder acquaintances or even a landscaper or landscape architect if you want.
By Jakob K. of Commercial Roofing Repair in Missisauga, Ontario. Jakob is a green living enthusiast and loves applying his skills to creating green living projects as well as blogging about them.