What the Heck is a Green or Living Roof?

You may think to yourself, what the hell is a green roof? Most people really don’t understand the concept of a green roof and write it off as crazy hippy talk, but I’m here to set the record straight and explain what a green roof is, how it works, and its advantages.

In Germany 60 years ago they started developing the green roof technology. Although we first saw this trend centuries ago among the Scandinavian population. Today an estimated 10% of all German rooftops have been modified into green roofs. Now the green roof is gaining popularity in the United States. There are certain cities such as San Francisco that are passing green roof laws. Even their bus stop shelters are going green. With this law, it will be mandatory for all new construction projects to incorporate at least 30-50% roof space to green roofs or solar panels or a combination of both. With trends like these, we are sure to see the green roofs spread across the United States and the world.


The EPA estimates that a green roof could start at $10 per square foot for a more simple design and up to $25 a square foot on more complex designs. Even though the cost is high, the savings that you will get in the long run make the green roof worth every penny spent. The homeowner’s utilities cost will go down and so will the maintenance fee after your green roof is established and well maintained. The plants and greenery growing on your roof will insulate your home during the winter and have a cooling effect in the summer. It is estimated that a green roof could reduce the need for your homes air conditioning by up to 75%. Yes, its upfront cost is high but in the end, it will save you more money.


Green roofs have a huge positive impact on the environment. Let us recap on the topic that was mentioned above. By installing a green roof you lower the use of your air conditioning, which in turn reduces production pollution into our atmosphere and greenhouse emissions, which was started by the EPA. The research was done by Michigan University and the National Geographic states that green roofs are also known as living roofs help manage stormwater runoff, noise reduction for the building beneath, air quality improvement, provide habitats for wildlife and give homeowners an urban space for recreational use.


A green roof is not for everyone or their homes. Roofs have to be built to withstand the weight of a green roof. The architecture of the roof has to be in tune. The roof may not be at more than a 20-degree slope. Although your roof does not need to be flat either, the flatter the better. There are three types of green or living roofs. The first being an extensive roof which in tales a depth of 3-5 inches, and a weight of 15-25lbs. The plants that are included are mosses, Sedums, Succulents, Herbs and a few kinds of grass. No irrigation is recommended and the maintenance is fairly low. The cost of an extensive green roof is the lowest of the three. Semi-Intensive green roofs come in second with a depth of 5-7 inches and a max weight between 25-40lbs. Plants that included the Semi-Intensive green roof are, select perennials, Sedums, ornamental grasses, Herbs, and some small shrubs. Irrigation is either partially or on an as-needed basis with the maintenance being at a medium. The cost comes in right down the middle between the Extensive and Intensive green roofs which we will discuss next. Intensive green roofs have an overall depth of 7-24+ inches and a max weight of 35-80+ lbs. Greenery that is included in the Intensive green roof are Perennials, Lawn, Putting green, shrubs, trees and rooftop farming. Irrigation is highly recommended for an Intensive green roof and the maintenance is considered to be at a high. Like the maintenance and irrigation, the cost of an Intensive green roof is high.

No matter where you live this option is out there for homeowners to consider. Yes, the initial cost and depending on which type of green or living roof you go with could also be high, but when it comes to down the road cost you will save. Your pocket will feel a lot fuller at the end of the month. Not only does it save you money but with the world using an all-time high in electricity, gas, water, and other natural resources it helps reduce emissions and filter our air. Countries, states, and cities to jump on this trend will surely dominate in the next century.

If you need professional help to handle any and all of your roofing needs, iRoof is always at your disposal. Feel free to contact us anytime for a free estimate and advice.

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