What Are Green (Living) Roofs?

15 Apr What Are Green (Living) Roofs?

living roof in cityA green roof, also known as a living roof, is a roof that is partially or completely covered in vegetation—essentially a contained green space on top of a building. The American Association of Landscape Architects defines green roofs as a “lightweight, living system[s] of soil, compost, and plants,” and you’ll often find them in cities.


Green roofs feature a complex system for growing and sustaining vegetation. Here is a brief look at the underlying structures that make green roofs possible, moving from the roof’s structural support and upward to the roof’s vegetation:

  • Structural support, which is typically the roof’s existing plywood deck, wood beams, steel, concrete, etc.
  • Vapor control layer, which protects the roof’s structural support against the effects of condensation
  • Thermal insulation, which improves the roof’s energy efficiency
  • Waterproof membrane, which provides additional protection against the elements
  • Drainage layer, which features “cups” that allow for water storage, promotes aeration in the soil, and functions as a root barrier
  • Growing medium, which is lightweight and is designed to hold rainwater
  • Vegetation, which, of course, puts the “green” in “green roof”


Green roofs are especially popular in urban areas, and they offer a wide range of benefits. First, they can, of course, bring vegetation to a place that otherwise wouldn’t have it, allowing even city dwellers to feel close to nature. Some green roofs can even support vegetable gardens that attract all sorts of wildlife such as birds and insects. Second, green roofs are very environmentally friendly. They are able to absorb and repurpose storm water, rather than allowing it to run off of the roof. As this storm water evaporates, it actually lowers roof surface temperatures. This makes green roofs an especially good option for those in hot and dry climates. Green roofs also happen to offer additional insulation for the structures they cover, helping to stabilize interior temperatures.

We at Garn-Tee may not construct rooftop gardens in cities, but we do specialize in roofing for homes in the Salt Lake area, Park City, and Utah Valley. We involve the latest techniques and materials in all of our roofing work, and we are well versed in the latest advances in sustainable roofing. We can help make your home more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than ever. Give us a call at 801-658-1482 for a free estimate!

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