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As global temperatures and sea levels rise, conserving energy and making the most of our natural resources is increasingly critical to the health and well being of humankind. While it may seem as though individual efforts are mere drops in the ocean, each action adds up. From tossing empty plastic bottles into the recycling bin to commercial green roofing systems to the Paris Agreement, our actions affect our world.
WHAT IS A GREEN ROOF?
Green roofs, which are also known as “living” or “vegetated” roofs are ballasted roofs (when gravel, pavers, or vegetation hold roofing components in place, it’s a “ballasted” roof) that consist of a durable waterproofing membrane, growing medium (like soil or soilless mix), and plants that lay over a traditional roof. A well-designed, engineered, constructed and maintained green roof provides considerable environmental, social, economic, and aesthetic benefits.
The benefits of a green roofing system are wide-ranging and include stormwater management, reduction of energy use, biodiversity and habitat, reducing urban heat islands, fire retardation, noise reduction, and roof longevity.
EXAMPLES OF AMAZING (AND A LITTLE CRAZY) GREEN ROOFS
The US GSA, currently maintains over 2 millions square feet of green roofs and that number has been growing since 1935. Examples of government-maintained green roofs can be found on the Social Security Administration in New Bedford, MA; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Satellite Operations Center in Suitland, MD; and on the US Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC.
Before you start planting, be sure to follow the US General Services Administration (GSA)’s best Practices for Commercial Green Roof Construction and Maintenance:
- Certified building engineers should determine whether or not your commercial building can structurally support a green roof
- Seek quality installation and employ leak prevention measures
- Hire qualified landscapers to maintain the garden and to avoid plant loss and other problems
- Check local zoning requirements before Installing green roofs on historic buildings