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Green Roofs

December 4, 2007

Growing plants on your roof has ecological benefits – and can save energy, too.


Growing support for green roofs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Instead of shingles, shakes, and tiles, how about roofing your house with grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers? These so-called "green" roofs, which consist of a layer of plants and soil, then a waterproof barrier, and solid supported insulation, are becoming popular in Europe. But biologist Erica Oberndorfer of St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia says the roofs deserve better marketing over here. For one thing, she notes that they moderate rooftop temperatures.

ERICA OBERNDORFER (St. Mary’s University, Canada):
Which means your heating and cooling systems don’t have to work as hard. And you can see your summer cooling costs, reduced by half, with the installation of a green roof.

She says a green roof can also absorb excess storm water, and provide a home for local wildlife. And if you plan it well, it mostly takes care of itself – meaning you shouldn’t have to mow it. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.