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Crafting Green Roofs


FAQ Green Roofs provides quick answers

In fact, this depends on the Geen Roof Type. However, here is a range for all the materials above the waterproofing (roofing): Extensive Green Roof with 5" depth costs vary from $15/sf and an Intensive Roff Garden with shrubs and trees  starts at $50/sf . Obviously the larger the area and the easier the project is accessible for construction it the cost go down. Because all roofs are different it is hard to have a price list for an installed Green Roof. Actually, in 1993 Green Roof Technology experienced a project where material had to be flown-in by a helicopter - at $2,100/hour. Also, construction management plays a crucial role in price finding as well whether you buy a Green Roof from a roofing company or directly from the source. Certainly this is one of our biggest strength - helping to keep costs down. The more information about a new project the more accurate cost estimations. FAQ Green Roofs #1

Yes, of course. In fact, many of our Green Roof projects involve existing buildings. However, every Green Roof Type has a weight. Additionally, the weight of retained water (we cannot change the weight of water) that is a crucial for the plants to survive and for stormwater retention. Since nobody wants a collapsing roof the structural integrity is the number one item to determine. A structural engineer is required, we can make recommendations. Step 2: Evaluating existing roofing/waterproofing is part of our standard operational procedure on all projects. As a rule of thumb, we recommend to replace existing roofing if it is older than 10 years. Certainly it is the best time consider a leak detection system. See also Services. FAQ Green Roofs #2

Modular or tray systems are nothing else than pre-planted boxes/containers made from metal or plastic. Although these come with internal drainage system, they are not reliable. In facts, The only function of the box is for easy shipping and quick installation by unskilled labor. Since the boxes are filled and grown (far)away from the project the costs are according high. Tray suppliers say, that the advantage is that you can move these later - not sure why. Certainly the disadvantages are that the maintenance is higher, the cost are higher, no flexibility, less diversity and high potential of damaging the roofing during installation. Instant green á la "mow-blow-go" style is questionable in regards of sustainability.

Monolithic Green Roof system or layered systems go from wall to wall, all fully integrated, seamlessly protect the roof, and highly flexible in meeting ALL design intents at the lowest price. Such loose-laid, wall to wall, or continuous systems, assembled on the roof guarantee functional drainage, water retention, plant diversity, roof protection, and potential combination with solar. The way to go. FAQ Green Roofs #3

Yes, absolutely. In fact it is possible from 0°-90° (vertical)!  Keep in mind the costs for material and installation will super-proportional increase the steeper the slope. Everything over 5-8° requires more attention to detail and understanding of water flow and distribution. Certainly experience is required to prevention of erosion. Green Roof Technology cannot influence physics/gravity. However,  we learned how to use gravity for engineering and without visual disturbance and over engineering. Climate Change with an increase of drought and heavier rail fall are also part of our considerations - unlike others. FAQ Green Roofs #4

It depends where you are. In short: Yes! In fact, in most of our project we helped our clients to find the funding for their Green Roof. Additionally worth to mention: a Green Roof will always payback - unlike a bare roof or roof with exposed roofing/waterproofing. The payback of a Green Roof starts on first day after installation. Because it prolongs the lifespan and protects the roofing. Also many cities worldwide offer stormwater fee reduction, that a building with a Green Roof gets faster permits, that the building can have a larger footprint, or even additional floor. All paybacks on the first day and often much better than cash incentives -besides the other typical advantages. FAQ Green Roofs #5
Absolutely! You can grow hearty drought tolerant herbs like rosemary, thyme, and chives on an extensive Green Roof . Other vegetables require deeper Green Roof types and then the limit is the sky. Since most crops/vegetables/fruits contain over 70% of water and typically cultivars, an irrigation system shall be part of the consideration in design. Green Roof Technology has developed systems that minimize the loss of irrigation water (comparable to Blue Roof and LowTide/HighTide). These are systems that work in any climate zone and without electricity or vulnerable high tech. Such solutions are also reducing maintenance needs that are on food roofs higher in the first place. Certainly, food roofs in urban areas require more water than food production on grade. Because they are exposed to higher wind loads and urban heat island effect. Keeping in mind that air pollution will affect the crop quality (crops adsorb air pollution) also. Finally, any "field" requires cover crops after harvest or in winter to avoid erosion. We do not recommend composting on roofs because the risk of heat or even fire (self ignition) is very high. Overall, roof top farms are more a fancy trend, great for marketing, great for teaching city kids, but also often used for green washing. Protecting and valuing existing farmland on the ground within cities and around cities (instead of warehouses) is a more organic option. FAQ Green Roofs #6
Not recommended! In the last 40 years most of these attempts ended in failure because other layers were not adjusted. Still, today we see designs where some sort of drainage sheet installed in deep planters and then "topsoil" added. In fact, whether these are planter or underground parking garages, It limits the lifespan of a Green Roof by 50-80%. Foremost "topsoil" is not a standardized quality label - people name it topsoil and it is topsoil - what ever it really is. Our proper engineering and design pays back before construction! FAQ Green Roofs #7

This really depends on the Green Roof type, certainly on the climate zone, and future Climate Change. Over the last 40 years Green Roof Technology has designed Green Roofs that have been maintained only every other year or only once in five years. We understand that every natural area (on grade or ground disconnected) undergoes a change based on the environment and by natural succession. 

If natural succession is not wanted maintenance is always high - means monthly or even weekly. It is like keeping a manicured lawn in shape that requires regular mowing - sometimes even twice a week.  In general our Green Roof solution are always engineered to keep maintenance as low as possible and within the design intent and for more natural appearance. Based on visual indications (indicator plants), simple physical tests, and education all of our Green Roofs exceed customer expectations over decades. Our experience is your advantage. FAQ Green Roofs #8

Water is the key of life and we should protect our water sources. Irrigating a new installed Green Roofs is always a good start. Do I need an irrigation system for that? No.

In general this always depends in what climate zone your are and when you build a Green Roof in the dessert with lush vegetation that is not present in the surrounding environment - an irrigation system is necessary. Whether that is environmentally friendly - No (why draining the Colorado river for a Green Roof in LA when farmers have water restrictions?). We have engineered Green Roofs in any climate zone under considerations of local water resources - it might not look always super lush and green but it is as natural and environmentally friendly as it can get. We even designed systems that are only depending on the grey water from the building underneath which creates a natural water cycle where we share our precious resources with nature.

Short: Irrigation systems on a green roof reduce stormwater retention and stromwater detention - the main reason why we build them in the first place. If designers or professionals emphasize on irrigation systems at project then we question the sustainability (and the high costs for installation, maintenance and operations of such systems. FAQ Green Roofs #9

A Green Roof shall last as long as the structure and should be fully reused when the structure is going to be removed!

When other say: you roof should last 2-3 times longer it just shows some deficit in experience. We know when a roof/roofing is properly installed, with attention to detail, the Green Roof components have proven a lifespan of a lifetime (centuries), and if the maintenance goes beyond "weeding" it will last as long as the building and no day less. With climate change in mind, we go even further because our solution will adjust and they are flexible when the owner's design intent will change. It is an investment that never loses value. FAQ Green Roofs #10

In fact, to avoid searching a needle in a haystack, the best thing that you can do: Check the waterproofing for leaks prior the installation of a Green Roof. Ideally with a leak detection system. Electric Field Vector Mapping (EFVM) is very accurate and finds leaks better than traditional flood testing. EFVM testing is possible even after the green roof is installed. It is often cheaper than the cost of a waterproofing manufacturer's warranty. Roughly 80% of the Green Roofs have an EFVM system. FAQ Green Roofs #11

Green Roof Education Lessons Learned - From Sika Sarnafil



Over four decades Green Roof Technology has been a trusted partner for building owners, architects, and general contractors to overview roofing and Green Roof installations. This ensures that the above mentioned and other issues do not happen. Our fee is little comparing to the issues during not or bad monitored installations.

It is never too late giving us a call - even after a problem occurred. In most cases we are able to reduce further damages, secure evidence, and keep repair within reasonable costs.

In case you are a roofing manufacturer or supplier we can consult in making positive movies that avoid problems in the first place.