With the graying of urban America, green roofs are a way cities and communities are revamping their aesthetics to make the area easier on the eyes and even more lucrative. Major cities see them as a way of curbing pollution and adding some earthy elements to their skylines—two of the biggest aspects of urban life.
Each roof is uniquely designed by architects and growers, giving a building its own unique personality. Some people think that green roofs are exclusively grass and sod covered planes, but architects and growers alike are getting more creative with the spaces they develop. All types of grasses, trees, bushes, flowers, and succulents are used when designing green roofs. Many buildings also choose to put recreation areas on top for people to enjoy. Benches, barbeques, and even playgrounds can be found among the vegetation.
Urban greening is promoted as an effective way to beautify the environment and increasing investment opportunity, especially as city aesthetics are becoming more important in promoting the community’s values and culture. People emphasize the importance of city culture when considering where to live and what attracts them to an area. Areas with green roofs are known for being cleaner, friendlier, and more desirable places to live. Buildings that have a green space for employees to eat lunch or just relax are also more likely to attract talented individuals.
More green also means less pollution. Cities want more green roofs not just for aesthetic reasons, but also to improve the air quality. Studies have shown that the plants on green roofs can capture airborne pollutants and filter noxious gases. They also decrease the energy needed to heat and cool the building, subsequently reducing the demand on power plants and the amount of CO2 released into the air.
Stormwater management and flooding is a big concern with city infrastructure. The vegetation on top of roofs reduces the amount of stormwater runoff and also delays the time at which runoff occurs, resulting in decreased stress on sewer systems at peak flow periods. Water is stored in the plants and soil, which is then returned into the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation.
While green roofs’ primary role is perceived as adding value to the city atmosphere, they can also be lucrative for businesses. A garden or landscaped rooftop is a unique feature that is more likely to catch the eye of passersby. Just by having this unique sphere, the business’ marketing will organically increase and will encourage customers to learn more.
The financial benefits are also evident. Some may argue that the cost of installation and maintenance is not worth the benefits. The insulation provided by green roofs can reduce the amount of energy needed to regulate the building’s temperature. The sun beats down on buildings during the summer, but much of that heat is absorbed by the plants. During the winter, heat escapes through the roof, but the green roof is able to insulate the heat, all while bringing down the energy bill.
Green roofs are excellent at noise reduction, especially for low frequency sounds. With bustling traffic and noise outside the office, many buildings are not able to drown out the sound fully. A considerable green roof acts as a natural barrier to the sound waves. If it is extensive enough, it can reduce sound from outside by 40 decibels, while a more intensive one can reduce sound by 46–50 decibels. A quieter office means less distractions, and less distractions means more effective employees.