Green roofs or rooftop gardens are roofs of buildings, residential, commercial or industrial that have been covered completely or partially in any form of vegetation to provide a wide variety of benefits. Rooftop gardens are not only aesthetically appealing, they are economical and obviously environmentally friendly. If you are considering building a roof garden yourself take a look at some of the images to first spark your inspiration!
Green roofs have really taken off because of environmental concerns, and is expected to grow 70% by 2017, its not just a trend. 31% of the energy lost by the average building is from the ceiling, walls and floors. Research has shown that rooftop gardens are significantly more efficient in reducing heat gain than loss (they are better at stopping heat from entering the building than stopping the cooler air in the building from escaping). Karen Liu and Bas Baskaran (researchers from the National Research Council Canada) found that rooftop gardens can expect to decrease heat flow through the roof by 75% in the Summer.
In some areas sod roofs are the choice of roofing for a majority of houses. The first layer is made of birch bark to keep the roof water resistant, the sod's main purpose is to keep the bark in place. In modern homes the bark is replaced with drainage systems. Sod acts as a great insulator during the summer and winter months. Historically roofs like this were built because the materials did not cost anything and could be found locally. The actual building of such beautiful roof required a lot of manpower.
The image above was originally posted by Gariboldi Padua. Above is a depiction of Chicago's City hall (built in 1911). William McDonough was the chief architect to implement the garden in 2001. The roof garden was a test to see if it could mediate the "heat island" from urban areas as well as rainwater runoff. The garden is also open to the public during the summer months.
If you are interested in implementing a roof garden onto your own house this is a really helpful image to inspire you. Having a roof garden on top of your house may require additional structural implementations but having a separated one can reduce the stress and fears. It would also be a great idea to have one on your gazebo!
Modern, cutting edge homes like the one above reach a maximum level of energy savings. This particular house was design by Tws Partners. You can see how is utilizes many forms of energy saving with white colored walls (reflect heat), solar panels, and obviously the roof garden. Other high-tech ways to save energy is to have geothermal heating and wind power.
The best way to conserve energy starts without much investment of money... just your time. Research your home's insulation recommendations depending on your location, upgrading windows to double pain and storm windows. Also, check your windows/doors by putting a tissue on to a pencil and hold it to the window/door seam to check for a leak. These are just a minimal things that you can do to save tons and lessen your impact to the critical global environmental issues.