As much as we are clearing out green spaces to replace with our urban developments, we need to make sure that we do keep as much green spaces in our cities as possible to minimize the negative impacts of our growing urban areas. Green Roofs are an awesome way to integrate green spaces into our constantly growing urban structures, and nowadays engineers, architects and environmentalists come up with creative ideas of doing that. Here’s a link to some of the implementations done across the globe.
So whats the big deal about green roofs? Well, trust me, even well before I was aware of what green roof are, and whether or not such a thing even exists, I used to be so fascinated by how the wall climbers on houses used to keep the inside so cool during the hottest time of the year even without the use of a/c’s. Now that I know about them, I feel like just as concrete and wood, they too must be a part of the construction of buildings. The great deal about them is that their benefits are not limited to either us humans or the environment alone, but their benefits extend even beyond that. Actually the benefits depend on from person to person. For instance, the fact that green roofs increase biodiversity may not sound as a benefit to the owner of a 5 star hotel building who’s main aim may be to make maximum profit and attract more people to book a stay at his hotel. Whereas on the other hand, someone working to conserve the environment and protect natural habitat may find it to be the biggest benefit. But the best part about all this is that it offers a win win situation. Here’s how…
For property owners, green roofs prove to be an excellent insulator keeping the building at steady temperatures both during the winter and summer. Last year my younger brother won 2nd place in a science fair where he actually demonstrated this. He had set up two small wooden house models, both with a thermometer inside them, but one of them had a layer of grass over it. placing them under high voltage flashlights, the one without grass warmed up rapidly, where as the other had its internal temperature fairly stable. By installing green roofs, energy demands can be lowered since less would be required for heating or cooling.
Biodiversity loss is also a major problem with increased urbanization because of the fragmentation, and in many cases, the loss of habitat of many species. These green spaces utilize the available urban surfaces to create habitat for various species, either local or immigrating species, thus enhancing biodiversity. Other than that green roofs also help in cooling down a city’s air temperature by about 3 degrees. Also, it helps improve storm water management. With paved surfaces in urban areas, there have always been issues with increased runoffs. Reducing these paved surfaces by adding in green surfaces helps reduce the amount of runoff and storm water. as well, air and water quality is known to be improved in urban areas where there are more green spaces like these roofs. Today these roofs are used for ways we might have never even though of such as farming! Yes farming.
Whichever side we look at these green roofs from, be if from a businessman’s perspective or an environmentalists’, we get a win win situation. But the problem is that we haven’t yet reached this success. Hope we reach that stage soon!
Brahic C. 2008. ‘Green roofs’ could cool warming cities. Building & Environment. vol: 43 (4) pp: 480-493. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12710-green-roofs-could-cool-warming-cities/
Farming on a Rooftop. National Geographics. https://youtu.be/Nv_KaBUP0jE
Green Roofs Take Root Around the World. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/san-francisco-green-roof-law/
M. Koehler, Plant survival research and biodiversity: lessons from Europe, in: Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities, Chicago, 2003, pp. 313– 322.
Oberndorfer, E., Lundholm, J., Bass, B., Coffman, R. R., Doshi, H., Dunnett, N., … Rowe, B. (2007). Green Roofs as Urban Ecosystems: Ecological Structures, Functions, and Services. BioScience, 57(10), 823. https://doi.org/10.1641/B571005