Plant a Green Roof
By creating a green roof layered with soil and plants atop your home, you not only add natural beauty to a landscape increasingly dominated by concrete and pavement. You also help reduce the urban "heat island" effect, by which cities tend to be several degrees hotter than surrounding areas, and you provide a roof-garden habitat for insects, songbirds and other wildlife.
Unlike the natural green areas that once covered the earth, most cities and suburbs are made primarily in shades of gray and black. Functional as they may be, the asphalt roads and tar roofs responsible for those drab colors also cause a host of problems:
Sometimes known as "living roofs" or "eco-roofs," green roofs have been found to benefit the planet--and all its inhabitants--in many ways.
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Create a Green Roof on Your House
Green roofs are typically installed on flat roofs, but they can be adapted for sloped roofs as well. They can be either "intensive," with about 12 inches of soil and a wide variety of plants, or "extensive," with about 3 inches of soil and a more limited selection of suitable plants. Extensive green roofs are less expensive, lighter, and easier to maintain. A savings calculator is available from GreenRoofs.org. You should speak to a structural engineer or architect to assess an existing roof before making plans to convert it into a green roof.
How-to information, products, services and do-it-yourself kits are available from:
Green Your Community
There are many examples of community efforts to create green roofs on shared buildings, including some notable projects in New York, Chicago and Portland. A searchable database of green-roof projects throughout the world is available from GreenRoofs.com, and volunteer opportunities abound.
To initiate a green roof project yourself, begin by asking building owners in your community to investigate the possibility of greening their rooftops. A sample request for proposals is available on GreenRoofs.com.
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