The Possibility of a Residential Green Roof

Building green rowhouse in PhiladelphiaOver at Green Building Elements, Philip Proefrock’s post Showing the Green Building Process highlights a Philadelphia couple’s blog, Building Green on Montrose. Archtitects Christopher & Emily Stromberg are renovating a South Philly row home, and they document their progress on the blog. I live outside Philadelphia, and I’m always excited when hear about another great green endeavor going on in the city.

What got me most excited about the project that the Stromberg’s are working on is that they are setting up the roof of the row home to be able to accommodate a green roof. Green roofs in a city environment have enormous environmental benefits. They do things like lower the temperature around the building, improve the air quality in the area, help with water retention and create urban wildlife habitats.

While I’m glad to see this going on in the city, I’m excited about it for another reason. I recently attended a seminar in Philadelphia about green roofs because we’re looking to put an addition on our house. I wanted to educate myself about green roofs and find out about incorporating a green roof onto the addition. I liked what I heard about their benefits. I was told that green roofs work well with solar panels (which we’d like to put on the old roof), and I thought “perfect.” Then came the question and answer time.

I asked about the feasability of doing this to a suburban residence and was basically told it wasn’t a good idea – there isn’t anyone doing residences so it would be too cost prohibitive to have designed and implemented.

I went home deflated, but then then I had two thoughts. One, they might be wrong. And two, if no one is doing it now, maybe in a year someone will be doing it. Green building is big right now and someone is bound to see the need for a reidential green roof designer.

And now I know – someone is doing a residential green roof just a few miles away.

This addition that we are planning is a big deal to my husband and me. When we first started talking about it years ago, sustainability and eco-friendliness were not something we thought about. But now, we’re trying to figure out how to do it as responsibly as we can.

I’m really grateful that people like Christopher & Emily Stromberg are going before us and showing us and the rest of the world that it can be done.

  1. Alice Wonderland

    I hope projects like this will encourage others to want green roofs, I’m soon getting one installed by a Norman roofing contractor. You would be surprised how cheap green roofs can actually be.

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