Green Roofs: Taking Root Across the Globe!

A recent law passed in the United States requires any new residential and commercial buildings of ten stories or more to install solar panels or a solar heating system that covers 15% of their rooftops.

Long popular in Europe, with countries like Germany supporting the industry since the 1970s, green roofs are taking root (or should that be flight?) around the world.

Other cities that have embraced this initiative include Singapore, where the Sky Garden House can be found; Australia, where The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland has committed to incorporating sustainability to every aspect of its campus; and Japan, where the ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall is draped in greenery. This provides a solution for developers to combine the profitable use of a site with the public’s need for open green space.

In a similar vein, last year San Francisco became the first city in the United States that requires new buildings be built with a green roof, an eco-friendly design technique that shows plants above the roofline.

A study by Green Roof For Healthy Cities North America Inc., a non-profit industry that works to promote the green roofs  across North America, shows that the green roof square footage has grown 115% since 2009 in the United States. With this trend taking root across the globe, Steven Peck, founder and president of Green Roofs For Healthy Cities, says that it offers significant benefits for the planet. “They can reduce storm water runoff, improve air quality, reduce the need for heating and cooling and can provide food and a recreational area for residents.”

Furthermore, solar panels and green roofs make for a winning combination. Peck explains: “Merging solar panels and green roofs can actually make each component work better. Solar panels can provide shade for plants, reducing the need for watering, while the panels work best when they are cool.”

Roof garden


The importance of incorporating green roofs and green infrastructure is gaining prominence. As climate change makes regions hotter and urban areas continue to grow, cities with green roofs will get an array of benefits that will improve quality of life for their citizens. These include the reductions of energy use. For example, poorly insulated roofs lead to overheating spaces beneath them, which leads to the increase of artificial cooling during summer and extra heat during winter months.

Cities that invest in green infrastructure will be cities that thrive. Cape Town’s  Civic Centre is a fine example of how turning what was once a grey, empty space into an area that can be enjoyed by all employees while on their breaks.  Perhaps, Capetonians could take over their own rooftops and turn them into something more green friendly?

Article courtesy of Sasha Forbes



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