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What Is a Living Roof? We’ll Tell You!

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Jessica
09.30.12

We highlighted this growing trend (pun intended) in last week’s Best of the Web, but there's a lot more to learn about living roofs! If you've been tossing around the idea of giving your house this green update, here's the rundown on living roofs:

Living roofs (or “green roofs”) completely replace the asphalt, shingles or tiles of a roof with a functioning garden. Installers of living roofs don’t use soil, which is too heavy. Instead they use “growing media,” which is a mix of granulated clay or shale, organic compost and fertilizer for nutrients.

Generally, people plant varieties that can withstand drought like coral carpet and dragon’s blood, but some roofs are built to support things like strawberry shrubs and even trees!

In case you’re wondering, yes, people do have to water their living roofs. The frequency can vary, but some high-maintenance roofs require their own irrigation system. If you’re picturing a torrent of water pouring out of the ceiling during a rain storm, worry not. Living roofs are designed to absorb rainwater so the house below stays safe and dry.

This eco-friendly alternative also reduces the energy usage of a house by naturally insulating and cooling the interior during the summer months.

Thinking of renovating your roof to be an eco-friendly oasis? You’re not alone. The green roof market grew by 115% last year, and it’s gaining even more popularity for public buildings and businesses like this Buffalo bus stop and this Portland State University building.

Photo: Apartment Therapy

Photo: Guz Architects

Photo: EcoGeek

Photo: goodEarthblog

Photo: Lake County

 

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