Build all new buildings with green roofs—with solar panels or rooftop gardens

Green roofs are a great idea for individual homes, not just commercial buildings and skyscrapers. Credit: Architecture & Design.

Green roofs are a great idea for individual homes as well, not just commercial buildings. Credit: Architecture & Design.

The core idea behind “green roofs” is simple: use building rooftops to grow plants or generate clean energy with solar panels instead of letting the space go to waste. The advantages of green roofs, in turn, can be wide-ranging and myriad—save money on heating and cooling costs by insulating the building better, make the building more durable against the weather, improve air quality, blunt the damaging impact of excessive rainwater runoff, and provide a natural setting where local wildlife can flourish.

green-roof-california-academy-of-sciences

The California Academy of Sciences’ green roof

In the battle against climate change, every advantage in cutting carbon pollution or advancing renewable energy technology is welcome. So why not build all new buildings and homes with green roofs and enable existing properties to upgrade their rooftop spaces?

The good news is that green roofs are increasingly popular around the world, with national and local governments in France, Germany, Australia, Denmark, Canada, and elsewhere aggressively promoting them through new policies, financial incentives, and straight-up requirements.

They’re catching on in the United States as well, with the city of San Francisco being the first major city to consider a green roof ordinance for new buildings. If not a national policy for America, at the least other cities and states across the country should follow suit and modernize their construction codes.

For more information, check out Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and “Green Roofs Guide,” SCGH.