I remember the first book I read on green roofs, several years ago — it made them look so awesome and dreamy and predicted a huge growth, images of whole cities covered in green… but it was actually already decades old and not much had changed on the rooftops of the U.S. or the world.
However, these days, it seems the growth is finally arriving. In 2010, despite a very weak economy, the U.S. green roof market grew 30%. Approximately 8-9 million square feet of green roofs were reportedly added last year, largely in large cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C. that have implemented good green roofing policies.
But there are still “huge opportunities for expansion,” said Steven Peck, Founder and President of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architecture, at the 2011 Living Architecture Regional Symposium in D.C. recently.
Why? Here are a few reasons:
- Create Jobs: “green infrastructure projects create lots of local jobs. ‘Green roofs are highly labor intensive and you can’t export these jobs.’ Making the case for increased public investment, he said adding green roofs to 1 percent of U.S. buildings would cost $9 billion and create 190,000 jobs.”
- Financial Benefits of Stormwater Mitigation: “green roofs have many financial benefits… their average stormwater mitigation benefit is $4.26 per square foot.”
- Reduce Crime: increased urban greenery reduces crime.
- Increase Property Values: rooftop greenery also increases property values. “A view of a green roof improves property values for nearby buildings by 11 percent; in comparison, a nearby park leads to a 20 percent increase.”
- Protect Roofs: green roofs “increase rooftop longevity by 25-60 years, ‘effectively doubling the lifetime of any roof. Any added costs of building or maintaining a green roof over time are made up by the increased longevity of the roof.'”
- Reduce Noise Pollution: green roofs insulate against sound. “a large building near an airport was able to reduce significantly reduce noise by creating a large-scale green roof, creating a nearly one million dollar benefit.”
- Make Rooftop Solar More Efficient: rooftop solar works better on green roofs — “their efficiency is increased by 5-25 percent.”
- Make Rain Cleaner: green roofs can reduce acidity in rain.
- Increase Biodiiversity: green roofs “can increase biodiversity, particularly birds, bees, butterflies, wasps, and beetles, if they include native plants.”
- Save Energy: “On energy, they can reduce solar gain by 84 percent, and reduce energy use by 6 percent in the summer and around 1 percent in the winter (Sandler noted these are conservative figures).”
- Health and Productivity Benefits? For sure, there are health and productivity benefits as well, but there hasn’t been much research done on this yet.
Seriously, the list goes on and on.
There’s a reason (or many) why green roofs are becoming more and more popular. Expect their growth (no pun intended) to continue.
- Bring Urban Children To Nature
- Nature Walks Improve Learning More than City Walks
- Green Spaces Provide Great Economic Potential
Photo via 416style