What is a green roof and where can you use them?


What is a green roof?

Green roofs are starting to play a vital role in the visual makeup of major cities and neighbourhoods across the globe, with many governing authorities writing green roofs into law to ensure a sustainable future and curtail the detrimental effects of climate change. Although there are currently no laws to enforce green roofs here in the United Kingdom, the escalating and alarming effects of climate change could coerce government to introduce plans for green roofs in UK cities to reduce greenhouse gases. So, we thought it would be appropriate to give a brief overview of green roofs, their benefits, potential barriers to use and where they can be utilised as they will no doubt become a permanent feature of UK life in the coming years.  

So, what exactly is a green roof? Well, a green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation planted over a waterproofing membrane. There are a lot of nuances to the makeup of a green roof such as the variety of different layers, including the substrate and drainage layers, which give them longevity by protecting the plant roots and providing nutrition and water. Green roofs are installed in a fairly simple process, firstly installing the root resistant layer, followed by the protective layer (ECCOprotect 400)  and finally, the green roof trays (ECCOsedum).

If you are thinking of adding a green roof into your own individual setup then it is beneficial to know the pros and cons of installing a green roof.  


Benefits of a using a green roof

Research has shown there is a multitude of benefits through installing a green roof into your own setup. These benefits range from improving home insulation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and even extending roof life through effectively protecting the roofing material. For example, roofing may become damaged during hailstorms, whereas with a green roof, hail is absorbed by the different number of layers that a green roof provides. Also, the soil is essential in absorbing rainwater, reducing precipitation drainage and the potential for flash floods to occur. Moreover, the improvement in the visual landscape has a variety of benefits such as reducing sight pollution and even having the propensity to improve the mental well-being of those living and working there, whilst providing a home for native insects, supporting pollination and in general improving the local habitat of the area. Having access to green spaces has been proven to positively improve mental health in children compared to those that did not have access to green spaces. Green roofs reduce the effects of noise pollution due to the combination of soil, plants and trapped layers of air which act as a noise insulator, also green roofs reduce the heat roof island effect which is where heat is naturally emitted from buildings into the atmosphere due to its many layers. The sedum trays produced by ECCO have several benefits which separate them from the competition, for example, the implementation process of a green roof with ECCOsedum, is a fairly simple process and can be completed by one person due to the low weight of each individual squared metre of green roof, (0.25m trays of ECCOsedum typically weigh between 11-19kg per tile). ECCOsedum trays have been ergonomically designed to include a special edge which makes picking them up, installing and moving them an easy process which also allows for easy removal for maintenance.

Green roof tile


Potential barriers to installing a green roof

Although green roofs have several benefits, it must be noted there may be a few barriers to implementation which potential buyers must be aware of before investing in a green roof. Firstly, the cost of installing and maintaining a green roof must be considered, depending on the size of the area of the roof, a well-executed installation can be costly so planning and budgeting is a must. However, thankfully the long-term benefits of a green roof may negate these initial costs since green roofs last longer than your typical roofing materials with potentially double or even triple the lifespan of a normal roof, also given that green roofs act as an insulator this should help in reducing overall household bills. Secondly, buyers need to consider the increased weight that green roofs will bring to their property and ensure the proper building frameworks are in place to withstand the increased load and safeguard the long-term safety of their property. Finally, green roofs need year-round maintenance to ensure they thrive throughout the seasons, buyers must realise the responsibility of implementing a green roof into their building and be prepared for the ongoing cost of maintenance. Although all these drawbacks can be avoided if proper consideration and planning is considered by the potential buyer as the long-term benefits clearly outweigh the short-term costs and planning.

Green roof installation


Where can you use a green roof?

Installing a green roof will entirely depend on the buyer and their own individual setup, however due to the flexibility of ECCOsedum, several setups can be considered. Green roofs can be installed on flat surfaces and even sloped surfaces with gradients of up to 20 degrees, covering a wide range of potential formats. However, when there is a higher slope/gradient, further precautions will have to be made to ensure the proper installation of a green roof. For example, higher gradients from between 15 and 20 degrees will require additional precautions such as a slat system to divide the substrate layer into compartments or a stepped system to help reduce the gradient of the roof.  

Green roofs are ultimately economical and offer a relatively easy installation to virtually any roof, those seeking to reduce their carbon footprint, insulate their homes and improve the visual presentation of their local area should seriously consider investing in a green roof. Green roofs, in general are an effective product but the benefits afforded by the ECCOsedum modular tray allow greater flexibility and longevity in comparison to a sedum carpet installation, allowing a greater return on investment for the customer.

Green roof appartment

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