On February 18, 2016

Grass Roofs – The Ultimate in Green Roofing?

There is green and then there is green. When it comes to roofing, for most of us, green doesn’t actually mean grass. But, grass roofs – which have been used for centuries in the Faroe Islands – offer many unexpected benefits. Not only are they actually good for your roof – often improving the lifespan – they are also good for your health.

According to Penn State University’s Green Roof Research Center the lifespan of a roof can increase by as much as three times after greening the roof, due to the way a grass roof shields against ultraviolet radiation and physical damage. 

A grass roof in the Faroe Islands


Further, a 2005 study at the University of Toronto showed that green roofs can also reduce heat loss and energy consumption in winter conditions, as well as reduce cooling through evaporative cooling loads by fifty to ninety percent. But grass roofs also cut down – if not eliminate storm water runoff. According to a study presented at the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Conference in June 2004, cited by the EPA, water runoff was reduced by over 75% during rainstorm

A grass roof in the Faroe Islands


And not surprisingly, grass roofs improve air quality, and can filter pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air which helps lower disease rates such as asthma. Grass roofs can also filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater. One study showed that grass roofs retain as much as 75% of rainwater, gradually releasing it back into the atmosphere via condensation and transpiration, while retaining pollutants – such as phosphorus and nitrogen – in their soil.

 A grass roof in the Faroe Islands


While grass roofs are best suited for wet climates, they have enjoyed increasing popularity in countries like Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada. And many structures in the United States, such as at Ford Motor Company‘s River Rouge Plant, Dearborn, Michigan, the Millennium Park Garage in Chicago, the Ballard Library in Seattle, and California Academy of Sciences building in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, have also gone grassy. The takeaway? A grass roofing trend might be optimistic, but in the future we might just see more rooftop lawns.


Sproul, Julian; Wan, Mandel, Rosenfeld (March 2014). “Economic comparison of white, green, and black flat roofs in the United States”. Energy and Buildings 71: 20–27. doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2013.11.058. Retrieved 27 February 2014.

Carter, Timothy; Keeler (May 2008). “Life-cycle cost–benefit analysis of extensive vegetated roof systems”. Journal of Environmental Management 87 (3): 350–363. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.01.024. Retrieved 27 February 2014.

“Penn State Green Roof Research: About Green Roofs”. Retrieved 10 June 2008.

This article is brought to you by ASAP Roofing, a licensed roofing contractor with offices in Denver, Colorado, Dallas, Texas, Indianapolis, Indiana, and New Orleans, Louisiana. ASAP Roofing specializes in roofing restoration, water and hail damage, and exceptional customer service.

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