A green roof is a functional roof for a home or other building that substitutes plants for conventional roof coverings such as tile, shingles and cedar shakes. Also known as "ecoroofs," green roofs comprise five basic layers: the roof deck, a waterproof membrane, soil-filter fabric, several inches of lightweight soil mix and drought-tolerant plants. Green roofs have been popular for decades in many European cities, especially in Germany, and are gaining popularity in the United States. Hundreds of varieties of plants will thrive on ecoroofs, and experts agree that any home can be built or retrofitted with a green roof.
Green roofs can be categorized into two types, extensive and intensive. An extensive green roof is very low-profile; it's simply a functional green roof designed for limited access by the homeowner. It typically has a 3-inch-deep soil mixture and is therefore less expensive and lighter than other green roofs. Plant variety is limited, mostly to cut down on maintenance requirements. Sedums, a low-growing ground cover with water-storing leaves, are popular for extensive green roofs.
An intensive green roof is more high-profile and resembles a roof garden because it has a much wider variety of plants. All vegetation is planted directly into the soil mixture that makes up the rooftop. The soil mixture is at least 8 inches deep and can be as deep as 15 feet, depending on the architectural and plant features the homeowner wants. Intensive green roofs are designed as an additional outdoor living space for the homeowner.
Regardless of the type of roof, the loading capacity must be engineered specifically for the desired end product. Every home and project is unique.
Green roofs provide a host of health and economic benefits for the homeowner, the community and the environment:
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