Living or green roofs are an interesting idea in highly efficient, environmentally friendly roofing. They make an attractive roof installation on buildings with a flat top while providing a number of other benefits. If you like this idea, learn how these structures work and consider installing one the next time your building is ready for a roof replacement.
What Is A Living Roof?
Basically, a living roof is a flat building top with real grass, moss, and a garden growing on it. Flowers, fruit, and vegetables can be grown on this type of roof installation or it can be set up like a park to provide some green outdoor space in a congested urban area.
What Are the Benefits?
When properly installed as a functional roof replacement, a living roof provides many environmental benefits. It improves the energy efficiency of the building while reducing water runoff. This type of structure reduces the production and use of synthetic materials that pollute the environment while absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
It can also provide food when set up to grow fruits and vegetables. The key factor in achieving these benefits is working with a contractor who is experienced in this type of roof installation.
How Does A Living Roof Work?
There are two types of living roofs that can be built on the top of a flat building: an extensive one and an intensive one. An extensive installation has a few inches of soil and a layer of sod and is suitable for growing smaller landscaping plants and mosses or making a park-like setting.
An intensive installation has deeper soil with a layer of sod and is suitable for gardens that support larger plants, some fruit and vegetable plants, and even some smaller trees. The actual installation process is the same for both.
Before a living roof can be built, it is necessary to ensure the top of the building is structurally sound enough to support the weight of all the materials, soil, and water the soil will absorb. Once this is confirmed, the old materials are removed and the actual roof replacement process begins.
Building a Living Roof
The first layer of a living roof is a protective board that covers the actual surface of the building. On top of this, a waterproof membrane made of rubber and plastic is laid down. This prevents water from seeping into the building, while keeping roots from growing into the building as well.
Above the membrane an insulation layer is laid. Next comes filter, drainage, and water retention layers which work collectively to promote even distribution of water and allow some drainage if necessary.
The last layer is the growing medium. This is usually a mixture of soil and other lightweight, porous materials that provide enough substance to grow things at the lowest possible weight. At this point, sod can be laid over the soil and vegetation can be planted.
Living roofs are environmentally friendly, a functional and beautiful alternative to a standard roof replacement. To ensure the best results and fewest problems with this type of roof installation, be sure to work with a contractor with a great deal of experience in the process of putting in a green, living roof!