Building a Green Roof: Is It Worthwhile?

– iStock 912610766 – Building a Green Roof: Is It Worthwhile?

Buyers love eco-friendly features on their homes, and there are a number of ways to ‘build green’. Green roofs (also sometimes called living roofs or eco-roofs) are one way to accomplish this, but are they worth it? And, more importantly, do buyers want green roofs?

If you’ve been wondering whether adding green roofs to your builds makes sense, keep reading to learn more about this unique use of space.

What is a green roof?

‘Green roof’ simply refers to a roof that’s covered in vegetation. They’re most commonly seen on the rooftops of large commercial buildings, but they look just as striking on a residential home.

Building a green roof requires a layer of waterproofing material, a root barrier, drainage system, and a growing medium for the vegetation. The basic list of materials is relatively simple, but green roof construction must also account for the local climate. Some plants are easier to maintain than others, but the plants being used must be suited for the region.

Benefits of building a green roof

Green roofs aren’t a modern invention. In fact, they’ve been around for centuries, and have even maintained popularity in some parts of the world. That’s because they offer a number of benefits:

  • Reduced heating and cooling costs due to more efficient climate control.
  • Improved stormwater management, since the soil will absorb some of the rainwater.
  • Added habitat for local wildlife, including honey bees.
  • Additional curb appeal for the home – it’s hard to deny the aesthetic appeal of these green spaces.

While a green roof might look nice and offer a number of environmental benefits, builders should also look at the potential negatives.

Downsides to green roofs

Green roofs also have some downsides that are worth noting. For starters, you’ll want to team up with an architect and structural engineer to design the roof and ensure the home can handle the added weight.

Costs will vary as well, though some data exists. The City of Portland found that the average per square foot cost of a green roof on residential homes runs between $3.62 to $10.85. Compare this data to what you typically spend on traditional roofing projects to determine if green roofs are cost effective for your business.

Additionally, this type of roof may not appeal to all buyers. They may worry about maintenance or have fears about leaking (which won’t be an issue if the roof is designed and built properly). If your builds emphasize eco-friendly living, however, your target buyers might truly appreciate this added green space.

If you don’t think your buyers will love green roofs, another option is to build a rooftop deck. These decks turn the roof into a usable space that homeowners can spruce up with greenery if they choose.


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