A Guide to Commercial Green Roofs

A commercial green roof in London

There are thousands of green roofs across the UK and this number is increasing every year with many individuals and companies wanting to adopt a more sustainable fabric for their buildings. 

There are around 700 green roofs in central London alone, with this number expected to grow in the years to come. This unique approach to roofing has become more popular recently. Many individuals and companies are interested in turning normal commercial buildings into something more. 

So, why are green roofs so attractive to many? Why should businesses care about the benefits of commercial green roofs? If these questions interest you, read on to discover the answers!

What is a Green Roof?

Before exploring the benefits of green roofs, it is important to understand what they are. This understanding will go a long way in helping to explain the benefits. 

A green roof is exactly what it sounds like. It is a roof that is covered with vegetation of some sort. If you have ever seen a building with a layer of grass covering the top or with a garden located above it, you have seen a green roof. 

Types of Green Roof

A green roof is any roof that grows plants on top of it. However, there are a few different types of roofs that fit this definition. These mostly fall into three broad classifications: intensive, extensive, and Bio-diverse green roofs.

Intensive green roofs are the most complex option. These roofs have a deeper substrate (soil) layer and, because of this, can accommodate large plants or even trees.

These types of green roofs lend themselves to the formation of more landscaped rooftops.

Extensive green roofs are usually relatively shallow depth build up roofs that are designed to be more lightweight and have a simple vegetation layer such as sedum. 

A Bio-diverse green roof is used where a wildflower and more diverse species mix is required and is often combined with a range of habitat features to encourage and support a wide variety of invertebrates and birds.

Benefits of Green Roofs

Green roofs provide several different benefits. These range from ways in which they help the community at large to ways in which they help the building they are a part of. 

Green Roofs Help the Community

The most obvious benefits of green roofs relate to the way they help the community. This is in regards to both the people and environment of the community. 

Green roofs provide a multitude of different benefits. These range from providing valuable habitat, rainfall attenuation and cooling urban built-up areas by reducing the Urban Heat Island effect. 

Green roofs improve the air quality around them by absorbing solar energy, trapping dust and improving the visual impact of a structure. One green roof might not make a huge difference, but a city of green roofs will have a significant impact on the city as a whole.  

In addition, green spaces help improve mental health. Studies have shown a direct link between access to green spaces and a reduction in levels of stress and anxiety. Green roofs can serve as these green spaces. 

Green roofs also have a direct impact on the environment within the community. By taking a previously blank space and covering it with plants, they help directly fight against climate change. 

In addition, green roofs that contain flowers provide a vital link for pollinators. Pollinators have been in trouble recently, with Colony Collapse Disorder killing an untold number of bees. With pollinators in trouble, the stability of food systems is in danger. 

By providing a space for pollinators, green roofs help them. This positively impacts all of the communities around the green roof. 

Green Roofs Help the Business

Commercial green roofs have several benefits that directly relate to the operation of the building below them. 

Green roofs also have a direct impact on the function of the building. The layer of plants and soil provides a layer of insulation for the building. This helps keep out the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter, which reduces the amount of money spent on heating and cooling. 

Green roofs also reduce sound from the outside. If your business is in a busy city filled with loud noises, your company’s employees may find these noises distracting. With a green roof, you can take a step toward eliminating this problem and, thus, allow your employees to focus on their work. 

Initial Considerations

Green roof construction involves a lot of consideration before the project can begin. These considerations will play a part in the roof’s installation. 

First, it is important to consider the building’s weight capacity. Green roofs are heavy, and because of this, the building needs to be capable of holding its weight. In some cases, weight restrictions may allow for an extensive roof but may make an intensive roof impossible.  

Next, one needs to consider the type of green roof that works best. Some buildings may want a simple roof of grass, especially if they are dealing with a sloped roof. However, other buildings may want a full garden for the inhabitants to enjoy, which would require an intensive roof. 

This may also be a good time to consider other roof upgrades. For example, solar panels have monetary and community benefits similar to green roofs. Upgrades like these can form part of a long-term roof renovation project. 

Installing Green Roofs

After making these considerations, installation can begin. This will be an intense project that will restructure the very nature of the roof. 

The green roof needs to be designed and installed in conjunction with the waterproofing and insulation build-up. This involves several layers of material that will form the roof build-up. This might include layers of waterproof material like Rubberfuse single ply membrane, Insulation, and drainage. Depending on the roof, these layers will range in thickness and intensity. 

Together, these layers allow the roof to take on the elements without exposing the interior of the building to these elements. They prevent water from leaking into the building and guide excess water elsewhere.

Solutions like Rubberfuse are also root resistant and prevent plant roots from burrowing into the top of the structure.

Finally, plants make their way into the equation. Depending on the type of roof that is being built, the arrangement of the landscape will be very different. However, in each case, the plants will need to go to areas that suit their specific needs.

Why Choose a Green Roof?

Commercial green roofs have the potential to provide numerous benefits to many business properties. These range from direct benefits to the business to benefits for the community as a whole. With these benefits in mind, it is easy to see why many choose to have a green roof installed. 

If you are interested in a green roof for your commercial property, make sure to contact Rubberfuse to discover the products they offer that will assist you with this. 


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