What are some of the environmental benefits of green roofs?

The term “green roof” is simple enough to understand; it refers to a roof that is partially or fully covered with plants or vegetation.

Green roof systems are effectively designed as a surface finish onto an existing roof on buildings. The fact that they are also sometimes called “grass roofs” or “living roofs” should tell you something about the perception of green roofs as an environmentally friendly, sustainable solution.

The practice of installing flat and sloping green roofs is becoming more and more common around the world as can be seen by the growth in publicity in recent years of the World Green Roof day initiative.

But what are some of the benefits of incorporating a green roof installation on your next project? Below, we took a closer look at them.

They are a powerful aesthetic enhancement

Over many years, great numbers of us became accustomed to the notion that our cities would almost always be a sprawling expanse of concrete, black and grey.

In more recent times cityscapes are embracing organic flat and sloping green roofs alike with the greening of our towns helping us feel closer to nature.

Jon Snow at the launch of “The Wild West End” on an ABG biodiverse green roof

The installation of growing media and planting helps to make our urban environments more appealing places in which to live, work and play. As a consequence, they can also help a given locality or project to better attract greater investment.

Alder Hey hospital sloping green roof

They enhance site drainage

The occurrence of flooding has increased greatly across the UK, with a key contributor to this the prevalence of impervious roofing surfaces.

Traditionally, the expectation with almost any building was that the network of drainage pipes connected to the sewage system would be effective in controlling rainfall and stormwater, guarding against the risk of flooding.

However, as urban development intensified over the years, as much as 75% of water is not attenuated in urban areas. Add to this the effects of climate change and flooding poses a constant risk in our towns and cities.

Green roofing systems, however, promise a potential remedy to this. Whether you opt for flat or sloping green roofs as part of your next construction project, the plants and substrate that form key elements of a green roof can provide an effective means of storing water, which can then be released back into the environment naturally.

They can help reduce carbon footprint

The addition of mass and the insulative properties of installing vegetation layers also mean that the occupants of the building will have less demand for heating and air conditioning. So, such a solution can play an important role in minimising carbon footprint, in more ways than one.  Both flat and sloping green roofs can cool the surrounding air and reduce the urban heat island effect, thereby providing invaluable microclimates in urban areas where they would otherwise be in short supply.

They create a habitat for birds and insects

It is well-recognised that urban development can bring about a serious cost in the form of lost habitat within our towns and cities. The installation of planted roofs and walls can help deliver a certain amount of ‘compensation’ in this regard as recognised by improved BREEAM ratings.

This element could also aid your efforts to secure planning permission for a project that would otherwise spell the definitive loss of animal and insect habitats.

Leeds Skelton Lake Services Wildflower Green Roof

They can help absorb carbon dioxide and pollutants

Did you know that the geosynthetic filtration layers and layers of vegetation within a green roof system build-up can play a role in filtering out smog in the wider environment, by binding dust and toxic particles? The plants and the substrate within a green roof can absorb nitrates and other harmful substances, to help enhance local air quality to the benefit of humans and animals alike.

There is much more that can be said about the possibilities and benefits a green roof can bring, including in relation to the innovative flat, curved, and sloping green roofs we and the ABG Installs team can help you realise. Enquire to the ABG team today, and as one of the most experienced green and blue roof design companies in the sector, we will be pleased to explore the possibilities with you.