Can I Have a Green Roof?

A Top Down View of a Living Roof

Not Only Does a Green Roofing System Offer Beautiful Design, It Also Provides Attractive Energy Savings.

In a commercial world filled with shiny white rooftops, nothing stands out like a vibrant green roof. Also referred to as living roofs, these systems utilize a gorgeous top layer of plants to cool the building and attract the eyes. Green roof energy savings as make it a prestigious roofing solution, but too many businesses don’t understand the other cost benefits it has to provide.

Today, we’ll analyze the nature of green roofing, consider its alluring commercial benefits, then perform a cost comparison to see how worthwhile the system really is. Afterwards, you should have an idea whether or not a green roof could be right for your business. Let’s get started!

What are Green Roofs Used For?

First, you should know that there are three varieties of green roofing. The simplest version is called extensive roofing, which contains the smallest amount of materials and requires less rooftop support. The second variety is the semi-intensive roof contains a little more growth medium (more on this later), which supports some larger plant life. Finally, there’s intensive roofing, which contains the most material and greatest weight demands, but also allows a wealth of trees and shrubs.


  • Extensive: smallest roofing system; fewer requirements; supports simple plant life
  • Semi-intensive: medium size; additional support requirements; supports more plant varieties
  • Intensive: large roofing system; requires the most roof support; supports all sorts of plant life

Basic Design

How Does a Green Roof Work?

From top to bottom, green rooftops start with a beautiful array of plants, which are supported by a thick layer of growing medium. This medium is engineered for maximum utility and minimal maintenance. It will feed your plants for decades. Beneath this layer is a filter cloth, which prevents the growth medium from escaping downwards.

Next comes a drainage layer, which permits some water to escape from the growth above (to prevent hyper-saturation). One of the favorite benefits of green roofing is the rain absorption effect; plants and the growth medium capture a large percentage of moisture to reduce runoff. Further below is a sturdy root barrier, which stops excessive root growth. Without this barrier, roots could extend downwards and damage the subroof. Finally, at the bottom layer lies a waterproof membrane which directs water towards pre-made drains.

Basic Design Summary:

  • Plants and Growth Medium (Top)
  • Filter Cloth
  • Drainage Layer
  • Root Barrier
  • Waterproof Membrane (Bottom)

Commercial Benefits

What Green Roof Benefits Can Businesses Enjoy?

Green roofs offer numerous benefits to entice local businesses. Reduced rainwater runoff makes protecting your building’s foundation and your commercial plumbing (particularly the sewers) easier. Plants and underlying growth medium protect against harsh weather, and they create a noise dampening effect which is very pleasant for underlying floors. Besides the beautiful appearance of green roofs, the most sought after benefit of green roofing is the energy savings.

Summary of Benefits:

  • Excellent Weather Protection
  • Reduced Water Runoff
  • Alluring Energy Savings
  • Simple Maintenance Requirements
  • Long Effective Lifetime
  • Noise Dampening
  • Reduced Urban Heat Effect
  • Gorgeous Rooftop Plant Life
  • Psychological Soothing Effect

Are Green Roofs Cost Effective?

A Modular Design of a Green Roof

Modular Green Roofing Can Be Used to Conserve Additional Walking Space.

Green roofing in Longwood and Orlando, FL and other major cities around the country continues to become more popular and subsequently more accessible. While there are several unquantifiable benefits produced by a green roof, the easiest way to judge cost-effectiveness is by comparing natural materials with common alternatives. We’ll break down the most important factors in the space below.


How Long Do Green Roofs Last?

Based on average lifetimes, a green roof will last approximately 40 years before it requires replacement. That’s about twice the typical lifetime of a single ply cool roof, designed from a PVC or TPO membrane. Green roof experts in Europe have produced certain designs in Europe that last decades longer, but for now we’ll use 40 years as our baseline.

Because green roofing provides a considerably longer lifetime when compared with other commercial systems, we’ll need to weigh that into our calculations when we compare other cost-factors. For instance, a standard extensive green roof will cost at least $10 per square foot, while an intensive design will start at $25 dollars. That may seem considerably more than $5.50 to $8.50 (the average sq. ft cost of TPO & PVC), but that’s for a material with half the estimated lifetime.

Energy Savings

How Do Green Roofs Save Energy?

Studies have shown that green roofs can recoup up to 33 percent of installation costs in energy savings over a full life cycle. How is this possible? There’s a two part explanation. First, the layers of plants and growth medium absorb heat, so that up to 72 percent of exterior heat never makes it inside the underlying building.

Second, the roof acts as additional insulation for interior heat as well. This is especially valuable during cooler winter seasons, as building heating systems save energy with shorter run cycles. In other words, green roofs provide value in summer or winter. In a sunny state like Florida however, its the significantly lower cooling costs that provide the best savings.

Ask for Your Estimate Today!

If you’d like to find out more about green roofing, including cost estimates for your building, our team at WeatherShield Roofing Group would love to talk with you! Contact us today at (407) 298-0100 for additional details on Longwood and Orlando, FL green roof systems.