Why Green Roofing?

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

In our current world, green technologies are becoming increasingly common as the need to address wide-ranging environmental impacts grows. Encompassing many areas such as energy, manufacturing, and agriculture, green technology involves the development of processes, practices, and applications that improve upon or replace existing technologies to meet our needs while decreasing our impact on the planet.

Finding ways to implement green technology in your home or business is a necessary step to reducing the impact of your environmental footprint. It is also important to consider that having a “green” roof is more than just the reduction of energy costs - it also can relate to recycled materials and lower waste in construction and the longevity of your roof (won’t need repairs/replacement as often). Luckily, green roofing is an option for many property owners, and these systems come in a variety of types, functions, and price ranges.

Why green roofing?

Simply put, human civilization contributes significantly to the current state of our planet. Far-reaching environmental consequences are mostly due to growth in population, consumption, and industry. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we can expect an increase of 5-10% in demand for energy used for cooling and the annual net expenditure in heating and cooling could increase by 10% or more by the end of the century. While the task of reducing climate impact may seem daunting to the individual property- or homeowner, there are ways that you can make a difference in your energy consumption as it relates to your roof.

What is green roofing?

Green roofing is a term that encompasses a range of roofing materials and systems that have a lower environmental impact, either inherently or by design. This can mean that these roofs reflect sunlight and UV rays efficiently, thus reducing heat levels within a structure. It could also refer to garden roof systems that utilize plants’ natural heat-absorbing properties to mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI). In all cases, a green roof is intended to reduce energy consumption and thus reduce the impact of our energy infrastructure, much of which relies on fossil fuels.

What kinds of green roofs are there?

Green roof systems are classified as protective coatings, reflective membranes, garden systems, slate, metal, tile, concrete and photovoltaic. The main types of green roofs are reflective roof coverings, garden roofs, and photovoltaic systems (solar panels).

  • A reflective roof coating or white roof is the best known and most applied of all green roof systems. These systems reduce roof temperatures, thereby saving electricity, and are great for almost every application, including residences, apartment buildings, condominiums, townhouses, retail buildings, schools, malls, and hi-rises.

  • Garden roofs, also known by the general term “green roofs,” help mitigate the consequences of displacing naturally occurring vegetation with heat-absorbing materials like concrete and asphalt. Many large cities suffer from the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI), an issue that can be alleviated by green roofs.

  • Photovoltaic (PV) roof systems involve solar cells and panels that channel sunlight and convert it into electricity, thereby producing energy savings. Right now, there are two main types of PV systems: amorphous and crystalline silicon systems. These systems have an average life expectancy of more than 30 years.

Roofs that also could be considered “green” include materials that reflect heat, are recyclable, or have a lower environmental impact in production such as slate, clay tiles, and metal.

Does green roofing work?

The short answer is yes, green roofing does “work.” Here are some benefits to getting a green roofing system for your property.

Reflective roof coating

  • No Adverse Environment Impact: Since there is no tear-off of the existing roof, and they are applied at ambient temperature, they do not contribute to landfills and don’t pollute the atmosphere with smoke.

  • Lower Temperatures: White acrylic roof coatings protect the roof from UV deterioration, reflecting solar heat from the building interior, thereby reducing energy consumption, maintenance, and utility costs.

Garden roofs

  • Energy Efficiency: Greater insulation can reduce the amount of energy needed to moderate the temperature of a building.

  • Moderation of UHI: Plants are able to cool cities during hot summer months and reduce the Urban Heat Island effect through UV absorption and by covering some of the hottest surfaces in the urban environment - black rooftops.

  • Improved Air Quality: Plants on green roofs can capture airborne pollutants, and the temperature-moderating effects of green roofs can reduce demand on power plants, thus potentially decreasing the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

Photovoltaic roof systems

  • Used in conjunction with solar instead of electric attic fans, an attic’s temperature can be lowered by 50%, which can save a homeowner or business owner up to 30% on their air conditioning costs alone during the hottest times of the year.

How much does green roofing cost?

Owing to the range in materials and systems of green roofs, the cost of installing a green roof can vary widely.

For reflective roof coatings, you can expect the cost of a professional application of a liquid roof coating as follows: polyurethane foam coating ($3+ per square foot), acrylic coating ($5 to $6 per square foot), silicon ($9-$10+ per square foot).

Garden roofs in the U.S. on average cost around $22,000 to install. On the low end, expect to pay around $12,000 for a simple, one-story extensive green roof seeded with grass. Higher end installations can cost $40,000 for an intensive green roof with modular plants and walking paths. The average homeowner looking to build an extensive system on a 1,500 square foot roof can expect to spend between $15,000 and $30,000.

Photovoltaic roof systems are notorious for their high price tag, but rebates and the eventual return on energy costs are considerable benefits. Solar shingle costs per square foot can vary widely between different brands, but the average price for your roof could range from $15,000 to $20,000. If you choose a highly sophisticated system, such as Tesla solar roof shingles, it could cost you upwards of $70,000. However, California offers rebate programs for local businesses and residential homeowners interested in having PV systems installed on their roofs. While these systems may cost more than a conventional roof, the significant savings over a 30-year period makes it well worth the money spent as this roof will pay for itself in a very short time.

Green roofs near me?

While you consider what type of roof will work best for your property, contact us for a professional inspection and estimate on any work or replacements that may be required. Call us today at (310) 903-0536 to schedule an inspection and determine the right materials and service for you.

Southland Roofing Inc. is committed to providing premier service at the right price. Serving Los Angeles and Orange County, we pride ourselves on safety, efficiency, and competitive pricing as we revolutionize the roofing industry. Contact us today to find out how we can serve all your roofing needs.

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