Benefits and disadvantages of green roofs

Benefits and disadvantages of green roofs

Having a green roof is one more step towards a better environment and a healthier, more eco-friendly lifestyle because you are actively contributing to the welfare of your surrounds simply by having a gorgeous, living roof!

The benefits of green roofs are many, and are found mostly in the environmental side of the coin, while also being cost-effective and long-lasting. However, there are some disadvantages of green roofs that should be taken into consideration before beginning construction.

  • Limitations of structure

Some buildings have roofs and load bearing walls that may be unable to support the load of a green roof. Extensive green roofs are thin and lightweight, with a growing medium of only 5 to 15cm thick, while the intensive green roofs are much heavier and will require extra support. Green roofs are best installed on flat roofs, or roofs with a very gentle slope of only 25 degrees.

  • Cost of maintenance and installation

While, in the long run, a green roof is cost-effective, the installation process can become expensive and the maintenance labour-intensive. Intensive green roofs can cost up to twice as much as extensive green roofs, because of their thicker and more complex assembly needs. To save time and money, homeowners should opt for weeding, fertilising and watering the plants themselves rather than hiring someone.

  • Leak damage

Most green roofs require and have a root barrier layer, but some do still suffer from leak damage because the roots of some plants may penetrate the waterproofing membrane which can cause leaks and damage to the structure of a building. The complexity of a green roof system can make it difficult to pinpoint the source of a leak, as well as making repairs challenging.

  • Plant choice can be limited

Intensive green roofs are able to support a wider variety of plants, such as shrubs and even small trees, but extensive green roofs are only able to support plants such as sedums, lichens, mosses and low-growing grasses as these are more drought tolerant and only require a shallow root system. This can affect the aesthetic appeal of a green roof, but that is usually not the case.

plants on roof

Benefits of green roofs

There are near-countless advantages of green roofs, especially for the environment. Not only are they visually appealing and a unique feature for any home or office, green roofs provide efficient drainage systems for rainwater, and also offer habitats for birds and small animals that live in highly urban areas.

  • Drainage system improved

Sustainable drainage is a vital component of any structure or building, in order to counter flooding should there be excessive rain. Due to the high increase of urban development, almost 75% of water is running into urban areas.

  • Roof lifespan is increased

A rooftop is under constant attack from the elements, and will need to be able to withstand wind, rain, UV radiation, and temperature fluctuation. This makes a green roof a highly considered option among both businesses and homeowners.

The barrier of vegetation protects the waterproofing membrane beneath, which can ensure the longevity of your roof for years to come!

  • Thermal performance is boosted

One of the major advantages of a green roof is the fact that it boosts the thermal performance of your roof! Traditional roofs often face the problem of having poor insulation, which can lead to significant heat loss in winter and oppressive summer temperatures.

If you are not sold on green roofs yet, then you can remedy your insulation problems by using the eco-friendly and cost-effective products from companies such as Isotherm, whose insulation is made from recycled PET bottles.

  • Aiding the environment!

Global warming is mainly contributed to by the release of carbon dioxide, and so the installation and maintenance of green roofs is an ideal solution to lessen the carbon dioxide that is released into the air.

Plants absorb the sun’s energy and reduce the roof temperature during the summer months, while boosting thermal efficiency in the colder months, which reduces the need to install electrical heating and cooling devices, which generate carbon dioxide. Using eco-friendly insulation products can also play a significant role in lessening the production of carbon dioxide.

  • Wildlife habitats are supported

Green roofs are able to support the habitats of wildlife such as insects, birds and other small creatures. They do not replace ground habitats, but rather can create flourishing eco-friendly habitat that can turn into their very own ecosystems. Green roofs are ideal for city dwelling birds, as they provide a natural place to create a home.

  • The quality of the air is improved

Air pollution is a huge problem in many countries across the world, with deaths from air pollution reaching over 20 000 in the UK alone! Green roofs are bale to aid in improving the quality of the air by reducing sulphur dioxide, nitrous acid and dust levels – simply by installing a green roof, you will be helping out hundreds of other people!

The advantages and disadvantages of green roofs are certainly highly important to consider when making the decision to install one, but if you are set on “going green” in a big way, the answer is fairly simple. Weight out the different benefits and downfalls and once you have reached a conclusion, move ahead with creating a gloriously green roof!

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