Roof gardens are steadily gathering popularity, and all I can think of is “Why not earlier?”. I mean they were with us for centuries, since the times of ancient Mesopotamian ziggurats and Rome. They carry many practical benefits, in case making cities look like sci-fi utopias aren’t enough for you. We just want to spread the word. Here’s how green roofs and roof gardens can improve our quality of life, and let’s hope we get our first roof garden maintenance job soon.
With the growing overcrowding problem and the expanding of the boring urban jungle, there is less and less space for public parks and green venues for relaxation. This can easily be fixed by converting the roofs of buildings into lush verdant areas. Aside from parks however, green roofs can also be used to produce food and are easily applicable on a small scale.
Plants on top of a building can significantly help reduce the heat build-up, the primary cause of which is insulation and the materials used in modern architecture. The University of Cardiff has performed a study on the matter. They found out that due to transpiration plants don’t rise above 4-5°C and are sometimes even cooler, which in turn translates into between 3,6°C and 11,3°C depending on the place on earth. This is because green roofs and roof gardens lower the heat absorption of the building, and in turn the subsequent heat radiation thereof. Another study by the National Research Council of Canada came to pretty much the same conclusion. These findings can have a huge impact on energy consumption.
Building more ecologically friendly habitats is a high priority for city planners nowadays. The two major reasons for this are the energy efficiency we talked about and the aesthetic appeal such buildings bring into the urban sprawl. A survey was carried out in Singapore, currently one of the most active in green urban planning cities. 80% of the surveyed people wanted more roof gardens in the city, the main reasons given were recreational, such as leisure, beautifying the scenery, and more greenery and nature being beneficial to lowering the levels of stress.
Habitats for Wildlife
This is probably not something that often comes to mind, but roof gardens and green roof can substantially minimize our footprint on the biosphere, thus establishing a semblance of symbiosis with wildlife. Depending on the scale of ecosystem created with sectors of green architecture, many species can be given a home in the city without being disturbed. Some cities have even designed such corridors for wildlife to be able to freely and safely pass through urban areas.
Aside from diminishing the urban heat island effect and therefore lowering energy costs, roof gardens and green roofs can also help with rainwater run-off. Not only that but they can filter pollutants, heavy metals, phosphorus and nitrogen. The latter two are actually beneficial to the growth of the plants. Additionally a large enough implementation of green roofs and gardens can have a significant impact on the air quality as plants basically captor everything that we don’t need or is harmful to use and output oxygen.
Below are some examples of roof gardens and green roofs.