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Green roofs refer to rooftops of buildings that are partially or completely covered with vegetation and under which there is a waterproofing membrane. These can be installed in existing buildings as well as new construction in areas such as rooftops or garages. This has become an important aspect of sustainable urban development over the past decade and is being included in architectural designs of thousands of new developments in India too.

Green roofs have become a common sustainability technique to deal with the Urban Heat Island Effect. Apart from adding to the aesthetic of a building, green roofs have several environmental and economic benefits.

Counting the Benefits

A major environmental advantage of installing a green roof is that it serves as a rainwater buffer. Layers of grass and plants absorb rainwater, treating it as well as reducing runoff into main sewage system, contributing in curbing sewage overload. These roofs serve as natural air purifiers, absorbing harmful greenhouse gases such as CO2 and converting it to oxygen. So, if you have a green roof in your building, you are contributing to cleaner air in your city!

Green roofs present unique cost saving opportunities for residential and commercial buildings. The green cover on the roof reduces ambient temperature as more than 30% heat is reflected by plants, which in turn leads to lower energy costs in the summer time for companies. Since temperature on the roof if significantly lower than surrounding areas in a city, it increases solar panel efficiency as well. Green roofs increase the lifespan of roofs by providing erosion protection and protect roofing material from adverse effects of wind, rain and sunlight.

Green Roofs Linked with Sustainability

Buildings with green roofs have a high sustainability performance and in most cases pursue a sustainability certification such as the LEED certification.

Certifications of this nature increase the value of a building and rental value too. Not only do green roofs have environmental and economic benefits but also several social benefits. It provides employees in a building to relax in a green setting, evoking feelings of well-being and increasing efficiency in the work place. The green cover provides a sound buffer and regulates sounds levels in a building by absorbing sound waves. In a residential place or a hospital, these green roofs provide a relaxation zone that is healthier than most areas within cities such as Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.

Two great examples of buildings that are sustainability leaders with green roofs in India include the CII Building and T Zed Complex in Bangalore. Both these buildings have either Gold or Platinum LEED certifications- two of the highest certifications given by the US Green Building Council. They have seen considerable energy savings due to this sustainability measure. Currently, Mumbai has the most number of green buildings, with over 1200 LEED certified buildings.

However, with the rapid population increases in urban spaces, government agencies must promote such urban sustainability practices to reduce air pollution, decrease average temperatures and safeguard the health of its millions of citizens who have settled in big cities. The green roof installations, as mentioned through the article, can significantly better  chances of adapting to climate change.

About The Author

Tushaar Sharma

Tushaar is currently pursuing Environmental Science with a minor in Sustainability Sciences from Emory University, Georgia, US. He has been intrigued by environmental systems since a young age but it wasn’t until high school that he realized his passion for the field of sustainability.

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