BAU. Green Roofs Sprout on Tomorrow’s Structures

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The latest architectural advancements could make it much more aesthetically pleasing and substantially less expensive to go green when building a new structure or updating an existing edifice.

The notion of eco-friendly building exteriors usually conjures images of unsightly, expensive solar panels or miniature wind turbines protruding from a former chimney. The newest roof concepts make it possible to recycle the air using inexpensive kits that are easy to install.

Roof Greening

The German firm Optigrün showcased their ecological facade systems at BAU in Munich several weeks ago. The company offers worldwide services for what they call “roof greening”. Based on years of experience, they provide kits for the cultivation of grass, flowers and other plants on the roofs and walls of any structure, from the smallest homes to industrial complexes.

Sturdy, inexpensive materials make Optigrün’s solutions cheap to produce and maintain. The systems require little attention after the installation and planting stages.

A waterproof membrane is first laid over the roof, followed by a fleece layer designed to store water and protect the roof below. A lightweight drainage board is then added to facilitate the removal of excess water, followed by a filtration sheet to prevent large particles from clogging the drainage system. Finally, innovative hydro-seeding or pre-cultivated mats of vegetation are added to a plant growth substrate.

These systems can be included in any new building project, or custom conceived for an existing roof or facade. Their design enables installation at any angle, from vertical walls to horizontal roofs. The systems weigh as little as 50 kg/m².

Naturally Improved Thermal Insulation

Hungary’s DIADEM offers similar roof greening systems, both small and large. Another advantage of such systems is improved thermal insulation. The use of revolutionary nutrient-rich substrates, lightweight drainage and roof protection allows for the cultivation of multiple types of vegetation on virtually any surface, with minimal maintenance.

In addition to the intriguing design possibilities, growing plants on building exteriors enables a roof to clean the air through photosynthesis, while insulating the structure to reduce energy use, keeping heating and cooling costs low. DIADEM also says their systems increase property values with a relatively low investment, and offer the opportunity to grow a wide range of plants.

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