It’s alive! Living roofs -- also called green roofs or vegetative roofs -- are a relatively new concept to the United States, although these roofing designs have been around for centuries and are quite common over in Europe. It’s a green roofing choice that not only looks unique but also offers benefits over traditional roofing materials like shingles or flat single-ply membrane roofing.
Most living roofs in the U.S. are found on commercial buildings, but residential vegetative roofing is spreading faster than cute cat videos on YouTube (Ok, nothing spreads that fast... but there's definitely a strong increase in interest). Modern roof design focuses on the “green factor,” addressing issues such as reducing heating and cooling costs, improving roof durability and using sustainable roofing materials. That’s what customers are starting to request, so that’s what roofing manufacturers and builders are delivering.
Enjoy some of the coolest looking living roofs on the planet…
Nanyang Technological University School of Art and Design in Singapore
This incredible 5-story building that houses the school’s art department was created by the designers at CPG Consultants.
California Academy of Sciences Living Roof
It’s a 197,000 square foot roof consisting of 1.7 million plants. It keeps the building an average of 10-degrees cooler compared to traditional roofing.
ACROS Building in Japan
The building features a step-up façade laced with more than 50,000 plants. The roof is part of a huge 1 million square foot building that features office space, shops, theater and museum.
Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy
Bosco Verticale, or “Vertical Forest”, is an architectural project completed in 2013 by Italian architect Stefano Boeri.
Grin Grin Building at Island City in Fukuoka City, Japan
Built in 2005, Grin Grin is the first building on a nearly 1,000 acre manmade island called Island City. Grin Grin’s amazing architecture seems to flow within the curvy contours of the island.
Via: Open Buildings
Meera Sky Garden House, Singapore
This modern-looking home was designed by Guz Architects and is situated on the small island of Sentosa located next to Singapore.
“Earth House” Designs by Peter Vetsch
Peter Vetsch is a Swiss born architect that is a world-renowned designer of sustainable homes with living roofs. Here are a few of his creations:
Vancouver Convention Centre in British Columbia, Canada
Offering breathtaking views of the harbor and mountains in the distance, the Vancouver Convention Centre is quite a remarkable feat of engineering. Its 6-acre living roof is equally spectacular and is a staple of Vancouver’s initiative to become the world’s greenest city by 2020.
Three-story Building in Seoul, South Korea
This incredible commercial building houses a designer shop, restaurant, multi-shop and plenty of greenery. It not only sports a living roof, but much of the façade and even the interior is decorated with living, breathing plant life. Imagine trying to trim the grass along the exterior and interior walls of the building – and you thought mowing your lawn was a chore!
“8” Residential Building in Copenhagen, Denmark
Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the 8 housing structure features a stunning sloped living roof that resembles a dual ski jump design more than a roofing structure. The monstrous 18,000 square foot roof has won multiple design and sustainability awards since its completion in 2009.
The Marcel Sembat High School in France
It may just be the coolest looking school in the world. The Marcel Sembat High School is a 6-building complex situated adjacent to a park and over the years has seemingly become a part of it. The school was originally built in the 1930s and has undergone several “green” upgrades since. The latest round of eco-mods were performed by the architectural firm Archi5.
Benefits of Living Roofs
Hight atop the 9th floor terrace overlooking part of its living roof at Denver's EPA building
The EPA regional headquarters in Denver, CO features a 20,000 square foot living roof consisting of 40,000 plants in all. The roof was installed in part to help the EPA learn the advantages and potential drawbacks of green roofing. It found both environmental and economic benefits, including:
- Reduces cost of heating and cooling the building
- Filters air pollutants and improves the quality of water runoff
- Reduces the heat island effect caused by dark roofing
- Qualifies for cool roofing tax incentives/rebates
- Increases the value of the property
- Offers better protection against the elements (hail, UV rays, rain, etc.) compared to other commercial roofing products
Potentially Negative Aspects of Green Roofs
There are potential drawbacks of living roofs, including the maintenance associated with them. You’ll likely have quite a bit of pruning involved with maintaining a vegetative roof, and it may require watering in dryer parts of the country. Green roofs are also quite heavy compared to traditional roofing, so you must ensure your roofing structure can handle the extra weight.
If you’re serious about learning more about green roofing and the installation process, check out this tutorial for more information.