You’ve got solar. You’re using energy efficient appliances and furnishings. Your yard is a veritable haven of drought resistant horticulture. There’s nothing more you can do. Right? Well, very possible. However, if you happen to have a patch of roof free there’s still one more thing you can do. Install a living roof. Green roofs – roofs with plants and grasses all over them – are an excellent addition to further reduce your carbon footprint at home. Here’s a quick guide on why you should consider a Green Roof today.

The Benefits

Oh gosh, where do we start? The benefits almost feel endless. Let’s look at the most immediate beneficiary: your house. Green roofs are very effective insulators. All its vast vegetation soaks up those glorious rays of sunshine and keeps your home cool. This lowers your electricity bill. It manages stormwater runoff. Less puddles and water damage to your roof. Best of all, it boosts your curb appeal in a way that is truly unique.

On a larger level, the plants sequester carbon, which in turn means they also release a lot of oxygen. This is why cutting down trees en masse is harmful to our environment. It may not be full on rubber trees or cathedral figs like what you find in the Amazon, but every little bit helps. In addition to adding money to the air quality bank, you’re also providing a whole new set of real estate for smaller, but equally important to our ecosystem, animals like worms, spiders, and bees. That’s right. You’re increasing biodiversity for your area with a green roof.

Because it’s plants and not shingles that your rain water is falling on, the quality of the water becomes cleaner. Other roofs, especially those in urban areas, will contaminate that water with its loose sediment. Green roofs don’t produce that sediment or contain toxic materials. For the ultimate circle of life effect, though, you can start composting your food waste and use that fertilizer on your green roof.

Types of Roofs

There are two basic types of green roofs. Both vary in maintenance as well as basic needs. Breaking it down, Intrinsic roofs are more involved while Extensive roofs expect very little. (What? We tried.)

Intrinsic roofs tend to have more blooms, and in some cases trees, and need as much as a full-fledged garden. If you’re going to go for gold, you’ll need the right climate as well as easy access to care for this roof. That doesn’t mean don’t go for it. But be realistic about it.

Extensive roofs, on the other hand, can be anything as easy as regular grass (or fescue for a lush green look) or completely drought proofed with succulents and native wildflowers. Especially once your roof has taken root, your trips to the roof will be few and far between.

What You Need

You’ll need a professional assessment first and foremost. If you’re building on an existing roof, it will need to be capable of bearing the weight of the entire structure. Green roofs require a thick membrane and proper irrigation, whatever they type of roof you choose. Then you have the weight of the plants themselves. Raked or flat, doesn’t matter. Structural integrity is key for a green roof. Finally, the right climate and access for the right kind of roof. What you can grow in your garden, you can grow on your roof.

If you’re keen to go green, combine the best of both worlds – technology and nature. Cultivate a roof that benefits the planet as much as it does your home while also bringing more beauty to your neighborhood.