Benefits of Going Green on Your Rooftop

ESTATENVY connected with Ramona Paravola at Chicago’s Garden Center for a deeper look at the growing green roof trend.

Rooftop spaces are becoming increasingly popular in metro areas where ground space is limited. While there are parks and gardens, not every homeowner is able to build their green getaway in a crowded city space. This is where a rooftop can come into play – offering that same green escape without taking up extra space. Homeowners and commercial buildings are opting for ‘green roofs,’ spaces with growing plants that replace the vegetated footprint that was destroyed when the building was constructed, not only for the benefit of green space in a space where it’s limited but also for the environmental benefits.

“At Farmers Market Garden Center, we are often asked to install plants in rooftop garden areas and containers,” said Paravola. “Many people simply love the added living space that a rooftop garden provides. A private, green oasis is the perfect remedy for a day spent dealing with urban stress. Additionally, rooftop gardens and containers offer space to grow vegetables and herbs that are safe from the nibbling of rabbits and other pesky critters.”

In Chicago, where there is a sprawling city skyscape and limited space for gardening, there is a growing trend for restaurants that are utilizing their rooftops to grow produce. Places like Homestead on the Roof in Chicago provide a farm-to-table restaurant in an urban rooftop garden oasis, serving New American fare that is all sourced on-site.

Aside from naturally sourced vegetables and a farm-to-table feel, there are several other benefits to a rooftop garden space.

“Anyone who has lived in Chicago, or any other city for that matter, understands the principal of the concrete heat island,” said Paravola. “There is where the heat generated during the day, by the sun, is stored in the buildings, sidewalks, roads, and other concrete and stone structures of the city, making it overly hot during the summer months. Air conditioning costs can be extremely high when the temperature on your roof reaches upwards of 150-170 degrees. A green roof, or even an elevated deck with planters, can reduce this temperature by as much as 80 degrees, reducing energy consumption and cost.”

Extending green space onto the rooftop has benefits aside from better vegetation and improved building costs. It also allows the space for more longevity before it needs to be renovated.

“A green roof, providing it is installed properly, will extend the life of your roof,” said Paravola. “The constant variation in temperature and weather conditions is very hard on roofing materials, causing them to shrink, crack, and deteriorate. A green roof provides protection from the elements and extending the life of the base roof material. The green roof space can also assist in reducing stormwater runoff by absorbing some of the water and slowing the runoff of the rest.”

As cranes fill the skyline in metro markets like Chicago, rooftops are becoming essential to allow for additional greenery in the crowded space. Residential, retail and commercial buildings are turning to these spaces for multiple benefits that the green spaces provide so that amongst a gray skyline, everyone is getting their essential green.