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 A whole new meaning to green building!

A whole new meaning to green building!

                                                                              Picture from Emory Knoll Farms

Cities can guarantee you a life of excitement and adventure, but sometimes it’s nice to find that zen place where you can relax and renew.  You may really long to see the colors of nature rather than be surrounded by beige concrete buildings. This in addition to the growing appreciation for green lifestyle has led to popularization of green roofs in places such as Austin real estate and the Chicago metro area. Green roofs are gardens set on your rooftops and they not only impact your calm, but can make a difference to the entire city.

Plants have the ability to clean air and reduce noise pollution. They also have the ability to reduce urban “heat island effect” by absorbing sunlight, providing shade and evaporative cooling.  This not only reduces your HVAC bill, but can also benefit the entire city. What’s more, you may even be able to grow your own vegetables and eat organic and local!

You will be surprised at how effectively you can make use of small spaces available on your roof top. You can always opt for container gardens if you would like to keep your garden simple and want to get started with a slightly easier implementation.

It is just not enough if you appreciate the idea of a green roof and think of putting one in, you must make the effort to find out how these gardens can sustain themselves. Plants require certain environmental conditions to survive and thrive and so you must make sure these conditions exist before planting. Research is being done to improve the efficacy of green roofs in Texas. And you can rest assured that Texas A&M is in on this research.  It is essential that you lay a filter layer and a moisture blanket before placing the soil because both these layers help in protecting your roof and in maintaining moisture for the garden. Filter layers help to reduce unwanted moisture while the moisture blanket makes sure the moisture content is just about right.  Of course, most roofs have not been designed for this added weight so, in most cases, increased roof structure will be required.

Which plants can you grow?  A good rule of thumb is whatever would grow on the ground in a regular garden.  Most green roofs focus on low water plants such asnative plants that do not need water and that have shallow roots, such as sedums.  However, some buildings have sheltered roofs in which case it would be better if you avoid planting plants that need a lot of direct sunlight.