Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Green Roofs for a Healthy Ecosystem

Preserving biodiversity in an urban environment can be challenging. Diversity within a species, plant or animal, is a telling factor of an ecosystems overall level of health. While urbanisation has been somewhat difficult to control, especially against the cultural norms that prevail in American society, there are ways that we can begin to make changes to how we approach urban development.

A “Green Roof” is much like it sounds. It replaces typical roofing materials with vegetation. On a green roof one will find a variety of grasses, flowers, shrubs, and soil. If you’re lucky, you may even attract wildlife who have found a comfortable home high from their predators. The purpose of the green roof is to provide shade, sustainable cooling to the building’s inhabitants, and provide a natural landscape that adds to our environment. Topping our cities roofs with gardens provides additional habitats for avian life, as well as additional safe resources for pollinating species.

The Environmental Protection Agency has endorsed the usage of Green Roofs throughout the United States and has written several documents that outline the benefits and costs of installation. The EPA states that Green Roofs have been proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also assisting in removing harmful particulate matter present in our city’s skies. Researches have estimated that just 1,000 square feet of green roof can eliminate up to 40 lbs per year of particulate matter while also improving the carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio in our air (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2013).

Despite our ability to create amazing architectural structures, adding nature back to our designs is also adding to our future. As long as there are wide open spaces being traded for urban development the trade off between protecting our economy and protecting our environment will collide. However, this disagreement doesn’t have to exist in opposition. Science is finding that we have the ability to at minimum to offset every space that is taken away by attempting to pay it back. While the the roofs may cost slightly more up front, they also last 200 times longer than other materials and don’t degrade, don’t need to be replaced, and don’t require much maintenance. Green Roofs may actually be a good place to start, and allow this exchange to happen harmoniously.

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