We just keep building. Trees, grass and everything green are all consistently being bulldozed down to make room for condos, superstores and parking lots. It's a sad phenomenon that's turning our society into one of glass and steel. Luckily, a somewhat new idea is catching hold and buildings all over the world are topping their facades with green roofs. And when I say green, I literally mean green. as in grass.
And why not? Lining a roof with grass creates a multitude of environmental benefits. Now I know that it's not feasible for most of us to have our own green roofs. But I think it's just such a cool idea that I had to share. Instead of normal roofing elements, green roofs are created using several layers of metal, waterproofing membranes and foam topped by soil (sometimes up to a foot, but usually just a few inches). There's usually also a drainage layer that will control any water surpluses to prevent mudslides during periods of excessive rain. Then a specific type of grass is planted-a hardy variety that thrives in shallow soil that won't grow too tall (so the roof won't have to be moved).
Beyond simply being beautiful and fun to look at, green roofs are extremely beneficial. They're long lasting, unlike traditional roofing elements, which are easily worn down by the harsh sun, causing leaks (and costing money to repair). They also provide an insulating effect, which keeps the roof cooler than traditional roofs, thus lowering electric bills. Plus, they help keep the surrounding urban area cooler and they're a great wildlife habitat, attracting birds and insects
Although there are some residential houses that are building green roofs, most of them right now are created by commercial buildings in urban areas. My favorite example is the School of Art and Design Media in Singapore. The building is stunningly modern, but the grass roof gives it warmth it would otherwise lack. I think it's an ideal way to combine the necessity of a large building with something a little more nature-inspired. Creating a green roof onto your current home may be too monumental of a task. But it's always something to think about if you're building a new home from the ground up. Like many eco-friendly projects, it will create both short-term and long-term benefits for you and for the environment.