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Want To Go Green? Start With The Roof!

Looking for a way to reduce your energy costs and add to the value of your home? Adding a garden to your roof might be the answer.

Green roofs are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. as a way to reduce energy costs. They are a natural way to insulate your home, possibly reducing your summer energy costs by as much as 75%! They’re also a long-term investment, lasting longer than conventional roofs.

Several cities, with Chicago at the forefront, are also starting to encourage residents to install them. Why? Because they help reduce the pressure on sewer systems by absorbing and filtering storm water that would otherwise run through the streets. Also, by making sure your roof is adhering to these issues, you can also make sure pipes and other plumbing parts aren’t wasting water and, subsequently, money by leaking (John J. Cahill, Inc. can help you with your needs).

Green roofs also reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect. If you’ve ever walked across pavement on a very hot summer day, you can understand why the endless asphalt that often accompanies urban and suburban areas tends to trap heat and keep temperatures high. The plants on green rooftops help absorb some of that excess heat in the evaporation process, and as an added bonus, they also improve air quality.

So how do you sign up for a green roof? Well, first you must decide if you want an intensive or extensive system.

An intensive system is essentially a rooftop garden, capable of supporting shrubs, trees, pathways, tables, and benches. This will add to the livable space in your home, possibly making a significant addition to your home value. However, this is, not surprisingly, the more expensive of the two options, and you will need to hire a certified contractor to assist with installation.

Extensive systems are still not cheap, but they are more affordable, starting at $8 per square foot. They can still add value to your home because of the savings on utilities. Many people also appreciate their curb appeal, and they need less maintenance since they simply have ground cover.

If you opt for an extensive system, it is possible to install it yourself. But how do you begin?

Decide where you want it installed. Do you want the whole roof covered or just a part? If you’re selecting just one section, make it an area under a higher roof, so that it can also handle the rain runoff from there.

Check your slope. You have to make sure that the soil stays in place once you’ve installed it. If you have a flat roof or one with a rise that is less than three feet for every 12 feet of length, you won’t need any additional support. However, steeper slopes will need reinforcements.

Verify how much weight your roof can handle. You can get a sense by walking on the roof to check for bounce or wobble. Any concerns? You’ll need to hire a professional to look it over.

Find the right plants. The temperature on your roof may reach 150 degrees F or higher! You want to find plants that are low maintenance and can also survive climate extremes, pests, and diseases.

Check your local building codes. If you think you’re ready to take on the project, make sure you aren’t going to face any fines or penalties for the change.

Don’t forget the waterproof barrier. Often plywood is used to protect the rooftop decking from potential damage from water and roots. It is placed between the soil and decking.

About the author: Jim Klossner has been an award winning freelance writer for over two decades covering the environmental and home industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him covering glenview plumbers or working on his sustainable vegetable garden.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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