What is a Green Roof, and Should Your Building Have It?

What is a Green Roof, and Should Your Building Have It?

Have you ever had the experience of driving by a building and noticing that some roofs seem to be covered in grass, reflective panels, or solar panels? Ever wondered why this is so common nowadays?

What you’re looking at is called green roofing – and it helps save both energy and money while benefiting the environment.

At Ridgeworth Roofing, we take pride in offering high-quality, eco-friendly roofing options to businesses throughout the Chicagoland area. But before you decide to make the switch, you should be knowledgeable about your options.

We specialize in three types of green roofing: Garden roofing, reflective roofing, and solar panels. Here’s what to know.

Types of green roofing

Garden roofing

Most people think of garden roofing when they hear the term “green roofing” because it’s, well, literally green. This type of roofing has layers of living vegetation installed atop commercial buildings of all types and sizes, including industrial buildings,  apartment buildings, hotels, and office buildings. Benefits include lower temperatures, increased oxygen, and water retention.

This type of roof is particularly beneficial during the typical Chicago summers when temperatures are higher than those in the surrounding areas. This creates what we call an urban heat island, which results in higher energy demand and cost, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

In installing a garden roof, you can reduce the surface temperature as well as heating and cooling costs while removing pollution and cooling the air. In addition, garden roofs are also visually appealing and can help industrial and commercial buildings fit in nicely with suburban areas.

There are two primary forms of garden roofing:

Extensive: This type of garden roof features plants such as succulents, herbs, and grasses – anything that grows in 6” or less of media or soil. It is mainly used to manage stormwater, but it can also offer cooling and protective benefits to the building.

Intensive: Intensive garden roofs feature plants that can grow in soil or media anywhere from 6” to 24” deep, or even more, depending on weight. It’s typical to see large shrubs or trees in this environment.

Regardless of whether your roof is extensive or intensive, it should be waterproof and root repellant to maintain the structure’s integrity.

Reflective roofing

Did you know that Americans use one-sixth of all electricity generated in the US to power air conditioning every year? That’s a total of $40 billion every year. This is partly due to the surface temperature of a roof and the heat absorbed into the building, which drives the need for air conditioning.

But with reflective roofing, we can lower the amount of energy used and the costs it incurs. This type of roof works to reflect the sun’s rays and reduce your roof’s surface temperature by as much as 80 degrees. This can decrease the need for air conditioning by as much as 15%.

In Chicago, reflective roofing is required on all new construction as well as any new roofing project on an existing building. We have years of experience with this type of roofing and can help build your ideal reflective roof system.

Solar panels

Solar panels are perhaps one of the best-known types of green roofing. Each panel captures the sun’s energy to convert into electricity, which then provides the building with clean energy at a fraction of the cost.

There are several reasons this type of roofing is so popular. Not only does it offer a great return on investment, but it also reduces costs, lowers future bills, and offers high reliability with little to no maintenance.

Ridgeworth Roofing can help you harness the sun’s power with a solar panel commercial or industrial roof.

Should you go green?

There are important factors about every type of green roof that you should consider before committing.

Garden roofs: While these roofs can extend the lifespan of a roof by as much as three times, preserve habitat, don’t require much maintenance, and benefit the environment, they can also lead to unforeseen expenses. These include insurance, liability issues that come with the weight of the garden, and repair costs for damage done to the building from the plants (e.g., roots growing into the shingles).

Reflective roofing: Installing reflective shingles can lower your air conditioning bills, reduce temperatures, and decrease the heat island effect, but they can also be susceptible to mold and have a higher installation cost.

Solar panels: Solar panels will reduce your carbon footprint, lower electricity costs, and earn money back on your investment, but buying the panels can be expensive, and finding local installers can be difficult.

With Ridgeworth Roofing, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Call us today to discuss your options and find out which works best for your building.