Green Roofs: A Sustainable Solution for Urban Heat Islands

by | May 14, 2024

Green roofs, also known as rooftop gardens, have emerged as an innovative solution to combat the urban heat island effect. These vegetative layers, grown atop buildings, not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of urban landscapes but also offer a plethora of environmental and economic benefits.

The Role of Green Roofs in Mitigating Heat Islands

Green roofs play a pivotal role in reducing the heat island effect. By providing shade and removing heat from the air, they significantly lower the temperatures of the roof surface and the surrounding environment. In urban areas with limited vegetation, green roofs can be especially beneficial. Studies have shown that the temperatures on green roofs can be 30–40°F lower than conventional roofs. This temperature reduction can lead to a decrease in city-wide ambient temperatures by up to 5°F. Moreover, green roofs can lead to energy savings of 0.7% compared to traditional roofs, translating to significant economic benefits.

Types of Green Roofs

Green roofs can be broadly categorized into two types:

Extensive Green Roofs

  • Simpler design with hardy plants.
  • Growing medium depth ranges from two to four inches.
  • Requires minimal structural support due to its lightweight nature.
  • Low maintenance once established.

Intensive Green Roofs

  • More intricate, resembling conventional gardens or parks.
  • Can include trees and is often fully accessible.
  • Requires more structural support and a higher initial investment.
  • Demands more intensive maintenance.

Regardless of the type, all green roofs comprise basic layering components, including barriers to prevent water or root damage, a drainage layer, a growing medium, and a vegetative layer.

Green Roofs vs. Cool Roofs

While green roofs are a sustainable solution, cool roofs, made of highly reflective materials, are another option to mitigate the heat island effect. Although green roofs might have a higher initial cost, they generally have a longer lifespan. Both types of roofs lower surface and air temperatures and reduce energy demand. However, green roofs offer added benefits like stormwater runoff reduction, pollutant absorption, and provision of natural habitats.

Co-Benefits of Green Roofs

Green roofs offer numerous advantages:

  • Reduced Air Pollution: By lowering the demand for air-conditioning, green roofs help decrease air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Energy Efficiency: Green roofs act as insulators, reducing the energy required for heating and cooling.
  • Improved Human Health: They enhance indoor comfort, reduce heat stress during heatwaves, and offer aesthetic and recreational benefits.
  • Enhanced Stormwater Management: Green roofs can retain significant amounts of stormwater, filtering pollutants and improving water quality.

Economic Considerations

While the initial costs of green roofs can be higher, building owners, such as BLC Roofing, can offset these costs through reduced energy expenses and stormwater management fees. Furthermore, green roofs have a longer lifespan compared to conventional roofing materials, leading to long-term savings. For instance, BLC Roofing, a renowned roof repair service in Akron OH, has observed that the benefits of extensive green roofs exceed those of conventional roofs by $14 per square foot.


Green roofs present a sustainable and economically viable solution to the challenges posed by urban heat islands. As more cities and companies, like BLC Roofing, recognize the multifaceted benefits of green roofs, their adoption is likely to surge. Whether you’re considering a roof installation in Akron OH or seeking roofing services in Akron OH, it’s worth exploring the potential of green roofs. They not only contribute to a cooler environment but also pave the way for a greener and more sustainable future.

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