GREEN ROOFS ARE CATCHING ON

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/03/eveningnews/main5361333.shtml?tag=stack

The article doesn't even mention that it's a help for climate change. I know there isn't a lot of funding for renovations and new construction right now but it sure is a good idea for schools, hospitals and any other good sized building.

The article says there's a 10% savings on heating and cooling expense that would offset or even pay back the cost. An employer could offer plots to the workers as a perk that might really be appreciated by apartment dwellers. Or maybe the building owner could lease the roof to an urban farm group. I see all kinds of possibilities.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I certainly like the idea. My roof is 5 years away from needing repair/shingle replacement and I'm thinking about a green alternative. Just a simple 3 inch, green, fuzzy roof cover would be great. I suppose one concern is the society understanding and accepting greenroofs so I don't devalue my house by doing something "weird."

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

I truly wish I was up to building myself a new house just so I could incorporate some of these new ideas and developments. I built my house in 1985 and had done my homework for energy savings. Some of the ideas were ahead of their time and I had to insist on doing it my way when dealing with some some sub-contractors. They tried to talk me out of a ridge vent because it was ugly and I already had continuous soffit vent planned. I made them put a double bead of caulk under the sill at the slab and they thought that was outrageous. Now sill insulation and greatly improved ridge vents are the norm.

That's just 2 examples of little things that have paid dividends many times their original cost which was minimal. I think a green roof would do the same. I just had to replace my roof last winter and reluctantly went back with shingles. They have an intriguing new spray on system that forms a solid membrane in any color you want. I just didn't want to be a pioneer with it. I would definitely be looking into a green roof if I were building new or was younger and had time and finance.

It's very exciting to think about the possibilities for food gardens on commercial roofs like that linked article highlights. I believe it's the best hope for eating local in the major cities. If these early projects can turn a profit, there will be a lot more to follow.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I hope you're right Twiggy. Perhaps the current economy will help adjust our values and make green roofs desirable for the population at large.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I understand the concept but I don't understand the mechanics. What kind of roofing material is under the dirt that won't rot or rust? How much bracing has to be installed to hold up the extra weight of all that soil?

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

There are quite a few underground homes that are open on one side, usually the south. They have practically no heating or cooling bills and can garden or graze goats on the roof. I would love one of those with light tubes so it would be nice and bright in the fully underground part.

I think there are a lot of changes coming in residential construction but not many people want to give up traditional appearance.

The green roof is much more feasible on high rise commercial buildings and I can imagine them becoming community gardens as well as the commercial venture described in that link. The building owners should be tickled to death just to capture the energy and maintenance savings.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I think the appearance is one thing, but risking losing value because your home is "weird" is a significant deterrent. If you were selling a house with a green roof, I would expect over half the prospective buyers to pass you up immediately without any consideration. The first thoughts are whether the roof is going to leak and how much the value is depreciated by the house being "weird." Most people won't take the time to go do the homework to understand. If you build your own custom place, that is a different market and you'll be dealing with buyers with an eclectic insterst on a one-by-one basis anyway.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

You hit the nail on the head. None of us can afford to invest in "weird" and then not have the prospect of return. I think change will be a very slow drawn out process driven only by economic pressure/incentives.

Personally all I can do is try to stay informed and apply only those innovations that make clear economic sense for me. It totally amazes me how many people I know that still don't have adequate attic insulation, hot water heater blankets, have never checked their duct work for leaks, need weatherstripping, etc. Yet they whine about their utility bills and blow their money on BS. I just don't get it.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

The Parks & Rec Dept here in Bend, OR incorporated a green roof when they built their new building. It is visible from a well-used east-west thoroughfare near a popular shopping mall. It's pretty cool to see, especially during the growing season. Perhaps the more people see something like this on a daily basis, the more it may become accepted as within the range of "normal".

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

What is the roof made out of that won't rot or rust?

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

There is nothing that won't rot or rust. Eventually.

Multiple layers are used for the roof system Generally (at a minimum) there is a waterproof liner over a stronger support material covered with a growing media. I would use a digging-tool resistant layer over the waterproof layer as well. I believe the link above (or a google search) will get you to a more detailed and accurate description of what actual roofs are built out of.

Bend, OR(Zone 4b)

Here is a link to a recent article on the Bend Parks & Rec building eco-roof. http://bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091016/NEWS0107/910160421
The sidebar article talks about the engineering and construction materials.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Thankyou for the link. I find the topic very interesting.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

I enjoyed reading your link, thanks. I'm glad the city of Bend OR invested in this new technology because they're pioneers that will lead to improvements. The sad thing is that most cities can barely maintain what they have in this economy.

I have grown Acre sedum and can attest to its' low maintenance/water needs. It forms a nice thick cover that would help protect against erosion but the root system seems weak for really anchoring. I keep thinking of the old sod roofs the settlers had on the prairies.

I think science will continue to develop improved materials for light weight, strength, filtering and so forth. But the costs must come down before we see mainstream use.

Cajun you live in the hills of KY and such terrain should be ideal for earth sheltered homes. I really like that idea but once again, the weight of the earth is a problem. I don't think I'd feel safe without something akin to bridge construction which would cost no telling what.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Many pioneer families lived in dugouts with sod roofs. I wonder how they waterproofed them.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Very interesting stuff.
I can imagine the health concerns to be raised over food crops grown in the midst of all the car exhaust of a city.
I expect dugouts with sod roofs were not much waterproofed, and very damp and smoky!

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

I think the pioneers did a lot of re-building. The sod itself would have absorbed a lot of the moisture.

Out on the great plains in Winter with no shelter is no good. Lots of wind and cold. Not much available for materials to build with and the wind precludes flimsy construction. You take what you can get.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I was wondering how they even got enough wood to hold the roof up. A short term housing I think, relatively warm for winter but not what you want too long.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

1st guess on a source for wood is that you dismantle your wagon.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I would imagine they couldn't build to awfully far from water and there was likely scrub trees around the streams.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

This house in Southeastern Michigan goes along with this thread

Thumbnail by allgr8dogs
Skyline, MN

I thought they increased the roof pitch so the weight was on the sod walls? I could be wrong but every one I've seen had a steep roof.

I would imagine a naturally short grass like a no mowing grass would be a good filter as well as insulator. They usually have short root systems too so they would hold up on a steep slope.

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