I just read that France is requiring, by law, that any new commercial construction must incorporate into the building plans green roofs. This is radical. . . Well, maybe no so radical since Germany, Switzerland and Canada have been towing a similar policy for several years. Thinking on their feet if you ask this author. If a roof has a certain degree pitch then Frances’ new legislation requires partial coverage with green or solar panels. Either one or the other or a combination of both, but a law nonetheless building tops are going green.
With awareness of trends it’s hard to miss the fact that some of the latest and what might be considered innovative ideas have their roots in antiquity. This all may sound like a new concept emerging from the last decade or so, but rooftop greenery has been around since ancient Mesopotamia – 4th millennium BC, 600 BC.
There may be some obvious reasons to the layperson for this applaudable move by the French, and then there are others that don’t come to mind right away. The consequences to this kind of new architecture are wide ranging. They start with cleaner air quality and go from there.
Roof top gardens insulate the building due to their thermal mass. This reduces the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the structure.
Another advantage is how they retain water. Less run off and more natural rainwater recycling.
Head Island Effect
By having more green rooftops the rest of the city is kept cooler. Typically cities range a few degrees warmer than rural areas, this is known as“head island” effect.
There are some beautiful and innovative designs. One of the leading designers is California Academy of Science. Others are Guz Architects and KWK Promes Architects. They merge aesthetics and practicality that results in energy savings, and . . .well, simply a great way to live.
Some commercial buildings, like grocery stores are growing their own produce. Fresh herbs in the winter and summer vegetables 9 months of the year. Consumers are getting spoiled fast and this writer thinks that’s a good thing. Fresh food right from the garden without the shipping or off vine ripening process has brought the small corner market advantage to larger grocer chains. Many proprietors are choosing organic yields since the gardens are new and can be managed from the beginning to supply this fastest growing segment in consumer desires.
Local rooftop gardens also put an additional twist on a community lifestyle. Many programs are employing the homeless in exchange for food and other compensations. Working a few hours a week on the garden can reap it’s rewards for anyone who wants to exchange a little garden time for discounts on produce. It serves as a community project in many ways bringing people together in a very active venue. It’s not just an environmentally healthy prospect its also good for mental health. The gardens grow soul food.
Rooftop gardens are often hydroponic in nature expanding the usage of small spaces that are subject to more intense weather. Also container gardening is a practical approach to incorporate flexibility and sustainability.
This whole concept, old or new, makes this writer want to start from scratch with a home designed to hold a rooftop paradise. It is not only beautiful and practical it’s a place to chill and feel closer to nature that could be completely private or shared with the community. It gives a whole new meaning to knowing the lay of the land. It simply feels right!
So much to do and too little time. Leave a comment below and tell me what you think about green roofs. Would you have one, if you could?