Intensive v Green Roofing happy, healthy

Intensive v Green Roofing happy, healthy

healthy living in southern NJ

Intensive vs. Extensive Green Roofing

by HealthcareHoneyBee on August 1, 2012

Man, Ive talked a lot about green roofing systems. I just go off on a tangent and cant stop myself…someone stop me next time! Well actually, you can try, but I wouldnt stop anyway. You must all be so green with envy that I get to blog about cool stuff like this all day.

Yeah, I know my jokes are shamelessly corny. I embrace it. You should too. -


Okay, so as I said in my last post. the name kind of tips you off…but not entirely.

The main superficial difference between intensive and extensive green roofs is that the intensive variety typically have substrates (growing mediums…soil…okay, dirt.) of over 6 inches. Basically, intensive green roofs can be like a full-fledged park landscape on top of your roof. As such, theyre heavier and require more maintenance – but they also can handle much larger plants, and people too!

Intensive green roofs are often found atop commercial buildings instead of residences, and they often come complete with walkways, benches, and a wide array of plant life. Intensive green roofs can support flowers, bushes, and even trees! With ponds and fountains, these rooftop landscapes can provide a relaxing space for office occupants lunches, breaks, or even meetings – if the weather permits. If the building is in an unforgiving climate, an intensive roof can even support greenhouses…if these greenhouses are stocked with edible plants, then it even promotes sustainability by providing food for the occupants. The possibilities are nearly endless with intensive green roofs, and since most commercial buildings are found in clustered urban settings, the plant life can decrease the heat island effect that plagues many major metropolises.

Irrigation is almost always incorporated into intensive green roofs, because the wide variety of plant life requires regular attention. To maintain the beauty and effectiveness of the roof, pruning and clipping is often required as well. However, since pests and weeds have a pretty tough time getting all the way to the top of a high-rise in the city, there is little pest control needed to keep these rooftop gardens in top condition.

The major disadvantage for intensive green roofs (besides the maintenance – but stop being lazy!) is that it can be costly for install. It requires serous planning and careful implementation to make these systems work, and if it isnt incorporated into the building plan before the building goes up, then retrofitting can be time-consuming and difficult. In such a situation, it might be smarter to utilize an extensive green roof instead.

Now, lets talk a little about extensive green roofs.


Intensive v Green Roofing happy, healthy

In reference to green roofing, extensive refers to the expanse, while intensive refers to the maintenance. Intensive green roofs have growing mediums that are over 6 inches deep; extensive roofing systems go from about 1.6 inches to 6 inches deep. And since I already said that intensive green roofs are often found on commercial buildings, you can guess where extensive green roofs are often found.

…But since I cant hear your guess, Ill just tell you. Theyre found on residential buildings. Extensive green roofs arent meant to support architectural structures (like park benches, ponds, or greenhouses) and really are only needed to support the weight of a human for maintenance purposes.

Weeding is a bigger concern for extensive green roofs than intensive ones, because the elevation is usually much lower than the average commercial building. However, pruning and clipping are minimal because extensive green roofs often contain grasses, flowers, and small shrubs only. Succulents do well in these systems, because they have shallow roots and require very little watering. Theyre also tolerant of a pretty wide range of temperatures and extraneous climate issues like drought, so theyre a good choice for residential roofing. Without the incorporation of full-sized trees and bushes, minimal gardening maintenance is really all thats needed.

Extensive green roofs keep a relatively low weight, so there isnt much stress or need for extra support on the roofing system. The insulation advantages are still present, as are the storm-water runoff advantages, but theyre just much more feasible systems for residential applications.

One of the biggest advantages to extensive green roofs is that they are easy to install. In fact, little needs to be done to an existing roof to prepare it for green installation. Often, extensive green roofing systems are just plopped right on top of a regular roof with minimal retrofitting or alterations required.

There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to green roofing systems, and each type has its own niche. The benefits far outweigh the difficulties, though, and the payoff is exquisite. Green roofing systems can promote sustainability and improve the condition of the environment…and the life of the roof is extended significantly, so there is less cost for roof replacement in the long run. Plus, have you been in a bustling city recently? Those places could really use some fresh air and vibrant colors. Seriously.

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