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Jack Cooper
Jack Cooper
  • 2 Minute Read
  • 26th September 2013

Green Roofing: A Sustainable Solution?

Green roofing for office spaces has been described as the 'ultimate in urban landscaping.' In a move to maximise the use of available space, green roofing is bringing botany back to the cityscape, whilst positively reducing carbon emissions.

Also known as 'living roofs', the roofs serve a range of both ecological and economical purposes.

These purposes and benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing heat loss through insulation, thus reducing wasted heat;
  • Lowers energy costs;
  • Filters pollutants and carbon dioxide out of air, which helps relieve disease rates (such as asthma);
  • Filters pollutants out of rain water. This protects your building in the long-term;
  • Creates a natural habitat for the propagation of wildlife;
  • Insulates against noise pollution. This works both ways;
  • Can contribute to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points, if installed and maintained correctly.

Originally deemed a viable solution for commercial real estate in Germany in the 1960s, the green roof trend has seen businesses across Europe and the United States begin to take notice. A growing (pun only somewhat intended) number of high profile businesses the world over have seen the potential green roofing holds, and many more have committed to exploring the possibility in the future. Google is planning to install green roof space spanning the vast planned expansion of its Googleplex headquarters, in a push for carbon neutrality.

Though the history of the green roof itself is centuries-long, the modern version is constructed differently. The system is a composite of manufactured layers - including water proofing, root barriers, drainage layers, and the all-important substrate. The installation process itself is far simpler than many anticipate. Materials used are optimised for drainage and productive growth; ensuring a tidy, quick, and cheap set-up. Businesses establishing green roofs that meet certain requirements are eligible for grants from local environmental agencies, so a little research into such subsidies wouldn't go amiss in the early stages of planning.

Green Roofing Plan

The extent of a green roof space depends entirely on the capability presented by the available area and the preference of the property owner. Obviously, the extent of the coverage increases the level of biodiversity potential, but even a lightweight plan offers a host benefits to business centres and office blocks.

Green roof structures consist of tiles, or 'pocket habitats', that are in themselves individual, self-contained units filled with soil. Each filled with wildflowers seeds of different genus, the pocket habitat's potential for tessellation allows for easy biodiversity. Habitats are highly portable, which makes using them to grow seasonal vegetables a perfectly viable option.

Another fantastic benefit roof gardens offer is the potential for employee engagement. A dedicated 'gardening club' run by employees can be a real drive for staff unity, and will save on upkeep costs. A gardening club can offers a unique opportunity for employees to get involved with the upkeep of the very office building they work in on a fundamental level - a level of dedication to work that will hopefully trickle down a real morale and performance boost. London-based law firm Olswang reportedly has the highest level of staff engagement in the industry, with as many as 74% of employees taking up social responsibility activities in the firms green roof gardening club.

With more and more businesses seeing the appeal and, frankly, the benefits green roofs hold, it's unsurprising how many are appearing throughout cities. With the reduction of carbon emissions at the forefront of almost every commercial real estate debate, it seems only correct that this unique, practical and highly effective model is given the consideration it deserves.

You can read more on the guidelines and process involved with green roofs here.

Green Roofing Examples