Gone are the days of boring, barren, hot and wasted space overhead; replaced instead by the growing industry of environmentally-friendly and aesthetically pleasing Green Roof Development, which has shown an aggressive 115% growth in the past three years. Since 2009, this industry has shown continuous growth thanks to organizations and companies like Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), Cities Alive, EasyTurf, and more than 425 accredited Green Roof Professionals (GRPs) in the market. It’s been a time of recession and stagnation for many construction projects. However, creative urban planners who ensure sustainability and use environmentally-friendly products have demonstrated exponential growth, promoting green jobs in the community. The government is also taking a noticeable interest in this particular area. “Government investment in Green Roofs for their storm water, air quality, green space and city cooling benefits largely fuels the growth of this industry,” said Seven W. Peck, founder and president of GRHC.
Technology is one driving force behind the Green Roof movement. A green roof system involves the creation of “contained” green space on top of a human-made structure, providing owners of those building with a proven return on investment and significant social, economic, aesthetic and environmental benefits.
Advanced urban landscape design has led to green roof systems that can capture water for irrigation, allowing for slower but still 100% complete drainage (minimizing sewer run-off and urban flooding problems while extending the life of that city’s drain system). Some green roof systems use natural dirt and sod that drains and filters the same as grass on ground level. Factors involved with the use of natural dirt/sod include excess rooftop weight and water/maintenance costs. Many architects and designers are instead turning to artificial grass as a landscape alternative, listing the benefits of long-term resiliency and dramatically lower water and maintenance costs.
While conventional asphalt rooftops can peak above 150°F and contribute to the urban island heat effect, the tendency for cities to be significantly hotter than the surrounding area, the temperatures of green roofs only mildly fluctuate, reducing cooling costs in the buildings below them by about 20%. A green roof also insulates a building better in cold weather, reducing heating costs during winter months.
Innovative product design makes a significant difference in the benefits and outcome. Builders and architects tend to want universal, technical solutions to common problems, while clients tend to want roofs that are easy to maintain, uniformly green and beautiful all year round, and cost-effective. One of the ways they both get covered is with the advancement of synthetic grass products. Green Roof installation is often a better financial option as well, allowing for the additional benefits of water-reduction, cutting those costs by as much as 70%. While the average cost of installing a green roof can be two or three times more of an investment than a conventional roof, it’s likely to be more cost-effective in the long run, saving enormous energy, water, and maintenance costs.
Another factor attributing to the rise of Green Roofs: It’s just not practical or, for that matter, ethical, to continue to aggressively think of urban building and growth without proper thought to the environment. The requirements of a green roof project include preserving, enhancing, and making viable living space from areas that were traditionally wasted, making urban areas more livable, friendly, and vibrant through sustainable design. Some of the cities leading the green roof initiative include Washington DC, Chicago, New York, and Toronto, although almost every major city is taking an interest in these types of projects, creating more and more green practices and jobs in the community.
Simply imagine the millions of acres of traditional barren rooftops in every city, state, and country on our planet. Now imagine minimizing that enormous human footprint we’ve stamped and giving a little back to nature—creating green spaces in place of asphalt, tar, and gravel - with the by-products being environmental stewardship, an increase in green job creation in the communities, and human happiness.
is an author, artist, Marketing specialist and contributing writer for companies, organizations, small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout North America. She holds a BAE from Arizona State and an MSA in Business Development and Marketing from Central Michigan University. She currently resides in San Diego, California. For more information, visit Easy Turf.