Green roofs and rooftop gardens have become a common feature to many apartment buildings and homes in the Vancouver area and around the world. They provide a range of environmental benefits including:
- Energy conservation (improve buildings insulation and energy efficiency)
- Aid reduction of the urban heat island effect
- Form a noise buffer
- Houses an area for biodiversity to flourish
- Provide food
- Temperature control
- Hydrological benefits
- Recreational opportunities
Green roofs: (also known as living roof) is a “roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane.” Additional layers may be required such as root barriers, drainage and irrigation systems.
Rooftop gardens: “a garden on the roof of a building” (decorative, recreational and ecological benefits).
Both green roofs and rooftop garden do well in wet climates such as Vancouver, however that does not mean that warmer/hot climates cannot have them. For places like Kelowna, green roofs and rooftop gardens are different as they must be able to withstand the heat and dryness. Therefore, drought tolerant plants and grasses must be selected. Be sure to purchase plants with low water use and high leaf succulence (high water holding capacity).
For Kelowna here is a list of plants and grasses that are drought tolerant and sure to make a beautiful green space.
Although green spaces may seem like a great solution to a flat, unused roof there are a few things that must be considered as they require particular care and technique to construct one well. Here are a couple points to be aware of:
- The additional structure elements that may be needed to support a green space
- The additional drainage needed
- Type of roof (flat or pitched) your home has. Flat roofs are ideal for the construction of a green roof or rooftop garden
- Types of plants to purchase (based on climate in your area)
Overall, green roofs and rooftop gardens are a great addition to homes and apartment buildings. Drought tolerant green spaces, that would be needed for places like Kelowna, may not visually be the same as the ones in Vancouver but will provide the same energy conservation and ecological benefits for your home. In addition, these spaces allow you to maximize your amount of outdoor space while being ecologically sensitive and adding architectural interest to your home.