Firstly, they’re just kind of fun. Creating a living habitat over your head sparks the imagination. When you see a living roof, you may start dreaming of a world where humans don’t destroy an ecosystem with each square foot of development, but live in harmony with other species.
Living roofs certainly provide significant benefits for the building owner as well. When a roof is protected from the elements by soil and plants, it often lasts two to three times as long, reducing costs and landfill waste over the life of the building. The additional mass of a living roof protects your interior environment from heat, cold, and noise. Especially on hot sunny days when the roof’s soil is dryer, it significantly reduces inside temperatures. In an urban environment, the sound-dampening quality of living roofs is quite noticeable. At the Hawthorne Hostel, which boasts a living roof over its front porch on a busy street, I’ve been told that simply by not reflecting noise, the living roof makes the bedrooms quieter.
If building a living roof, it is important to have it designed by someone with expertise. Rainwater will be retained and sitting on your roof, so it’s critical that the details are designed well to keep water out of the structure. A designer who is well versed in passive solar design is also important, so you get the most benefit from the living roof’s insulating properties. As you can see, Communitecture has overseen the construction of green roofs of many shapes and sizes and on a variety of building types. We love it when our architecture sprouts life and hope to design many more living roofs.
Roofs pictured, from top:
- Pistils Nursery mixed use building, private roof top garden
- Residential porch roof & brow roof retrofit, attached to original house structure, planted with sedums and native grasses
- Backyard cob sanctuary/meditation room with conical roof of varying slopes
- Backyard cob sauna planted with sedum, prickly pear cactus, and grasses
- Cob pavilion at the Hawthorne Hostel with conical roof and oculus
- Strawbale residence with skylights, planted with grasses
- Pistils Nursery from another angle