Seeing Green: Do Your Research Before Setting Your Heart On A Sustainable Roof

It's time to replace your facility's roof and you're determined to install a green system on top of your building. You know a sustainable roof can help your building stay cooler, and it helps the environment. But unless you live in a city like Toronto where there are rules and guidlines in place concerning green roof installations, you may be wondering what type of green roof is best for your location.


If you have your hopes set on a colourful living prairie or herb garden growing above your business, you're not alone. There has been an increase in vegetated green roof installations across North America.

To have a growing roof of your own, it's best to have a flat roof on your building. It is possible to have a living installation on pitched roofs, but you will have higher initial expenses due to the necessity of anchoring the growing containers and medium. The normal price for a living roof is around $15-$20 per square foot.

The typical planted roof starts out with an impervious membrane. The "garden" on the roof can then be as simple as a grass patch or as extensive as any small city park complete with trees, fish ponds and benches.

There are increased maintenance costs for the first few years after a living roof is installed. According to this study, higher initial expenses are more than made up for by the fact that these types of roofs should last twice as long as conventional roofs.


There are new types of solar shingles available that lay flush on roofs or that deliver better energy savings. Unlike traditional solar panels, solar shingles must be installed when the roof is installed or replaced. You need to have a sloping roof with a significant portion of the roof facing south in order to make solar shingles worth your while.

Photovoltaic shingles can deliver 12 watts per square foot, which can be used immediately by your business, sold back to the utility company or stored in battery arrays for emergencies.

A typical solar shingle roof installation can be around $30,000. You will need to have qualified solar shingle installers to place the shingles and a licensed electrician to connect the shingles to the inverter and then to your power supply.


Even if a solar or living roof won't work in your location, you can still have a green facility roof. There are energy-efficient roofing pavers, metal panels and even glass tiles that qualify as green construction materials due to their insulating and cooling properties.

Standard shingles are now being manufactured to be more reflective and to last longer. Innovative new membrane roofs are always a possibility for certain buildings.

Do your research before choosing a green roof, and be sure to ask your roofing professionals about tax credits and other subsidies that can help you pay for it. You're doing the right thing by installing a green roof. Make the best roofing choice today to reap the rewards for many years to come.