Green Roof and Green Wall installations have increased significantly in recent years due to a variety of aesthetic, economic, and ecological benefits. The following list includes a brief overview of the various benefits associated with green roofs and green walls.
Aesthetic Value & Improved Health
Green roofs and green walls transform unsightly roofing materials and walls into attractive green spaces that help restore metal health and well-being. Many studies have shown positive health benefits directly associated with views and access to vegetation. In the city we are surrounded by utilitarian, even unsightly building materials such as asphalt shingles, roofing membranes, concrete walls, etc. So, why not consider a green roof or a green wall to improve your views? The aesthetic and experiential pleasure you derive from daily exposure to a green roof or wall can translate into increased property value.
Green roofs often produce habitats similar to that of meadows or fallow farm fields. Adding a green roof to a residential or commercial structure effectively recreates the habitat that may have existed on site prior to development. These habitats attract beneficial insects and birds, bringing nature closer to your home and restoring urban ecology on your property. As more people install green roofs, our neighbourhoods and city will benefit from improved & restored urban ecology.
Green roofs are designed to capture and store rainwater to support plant growth. Rainwater on a conventional roof is directed to downspouts or city infrastructure which can overload a combined storm water / sewage system, resulting in a series of problems. Like rain barrels connected to downspouts, rainwater storage and reuse with a green roof or wall makes good ecologic sense. The ability for green roof plants to utilize existing rainwater means less irrigation. Native and drought tolerant plants further reduce the need for green roof irrigation. However, a sturdy waterproof membrane beneath a green roof or wall ensures that your building always remains dry.
Atmospheric Cooling & Moderation
Rainwater captured by a green roof or wall and transpired by its plants moderates surrounding temperatures. Moist soil and active plants act like a humidifier. During hot summer days this extra moisture can help cool the spaces around green roofs and walls. On a larger scale, green roofs and walls when combined with other sustainable strategies can significantly reduce the urban heat island effect. Reversing the heat island effect would ultimately result in cooler summer temperatures and a much more pleasant living environment.
Structural Cooling, Insulation & Reduced Energy Costs
Vegetation on green roofs or walls intercepts the suns rays to help keep your house cooler during hot summer months. The special media used for plant growth acts as an added layer of insulation, further moderating the internal temperature of a building all season long. During the height of summer, surface roof temperatures can be reduced by up to 30 degrees Celsius with a green roof. This presents considerable savings on air conditioning costs. Furthermore, the cooler surface area on a green roof enables roof-mounted air conditioners as well as solar panels to operate much more efficiently. In a number of different ways, green roofs and walls help reduce your energy demands and save you money.
Improved Air Quality & Physical Health
Plants convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen through a process known as photosynthesis. A green wall in your home, office or commercial establishment can increase oxygen levels and remove harmful toxins from the air. This results in a better living or working environment and has a positive impact on physical health. Studies show significant reduction in employee illness when working in a ‘green’ building. Reducing employee illness has considerable financial benefits for an employer.
Extended Roofing Membrane Life
Replacing a large roofing membrane represents a significant capital cost to a building owner. However, some estimates suggest green roofs can actually double the life expectancy of your roofing membrane. While green roofs represent a greater initial investment, a green roof represents a financial savings over time by doubling the life of your waterproof membrane and providing significant energy savings.
Sound Attenuation & Radiation Blockage
External noises can be reduced significantly with green roofs and walls. Plants, growing media and the void spaces between particles, as well as drainage board, filter fabric, and a waterproof membrane collectively perform as a sound barrier. Sound attenuation can be highly effective in urban environments when trying to reduce automobile noise from adjacent roadways, overhead airplane noise, emergency vehicle sirens, etc.
Green roofs have also been found to block almost all incoming and in some cases outgoing electromagnetic radiation. With the proliferation of telecommunication devices, transmission towers are now commonly located on top of buildings where we live and work. Reducing our daily exposure to electromagnetic radiation with green roofs can have significant heath benefits.
LEED Certification Points
Earn a variety of LEED® Credits from the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) for your building project by including green roofs and green walls. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a third-party certification program and an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
Marketing Potential & Increased Property Value
Green roofs and walls can increase your property values. Market research has shown a considerable increase in the lease rates or purchasing prices that can be charged for buildings with ‘green’ amenities such as green roofs or green walls. Rooftop gardens accessible to condominium tenants can be marketed as a unique amenity to fetch higher prices per unit. Green roofs and walls make a bold statement about a person’s or a company’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Vegetables, salad greens and herbs can be grown on a green roof or a green wall. High-end restaurants that depend on organic and fresh produce have begun to employ green roof and wall systems for on site food production and harvesting flexibility. As more people question the origin of their produce, local food production on roofs and walls could become commonplace in our society. Green roofs with meadow flowers can be used to produce honey with an on site bee hive/apiary. Such food production represents a cost savings and profit stream for green roof and wall growers.
Sustainability & Infrastructure – Toronto’s Green Roof By-Law (Chapter 492)
The Toronto Green Roof By-Law sates “every building or building addition constructed after January 30, 2010, with a gross floor area of 2,000 square meters or greater shall include a green roof…” Green roof coverage will depend on on the building’s size (Gross Floor Area). This progressive legislative effort is intended to achieve greater sustainability within the city of Toronto. Contact us today if your project requires a green roof under Toronto’s Green Roof By-Law.