So you’ve found that new home in Philadelphia you’ve always dreamed of, the one with the huge roof deck with spectacular skyline views, and you want to turn that deck into something really special. Or maybe you already own a piece of Philadelphia real estate with a roof that’s about due for repair or replacement. Here’s an idea that will add value and beauty to your home, cut your energy bills, and help our urban environment all at the same time: Turn that roof of yours green.
Green roofs – roofs planted with low-maintenance grasses or plants that absorb and retain water – are a small but important way to help reduce the burden placed on Philadelphia’s sewer system when it rains. By absorbing and holding storm water, green roofs reduce runoff into the city’s sewers, which in turn reduces flooding and sewage pollution in the rivers that provide the city and region with drinking water.
Green roofs are also a component of the Philadelphia Water Department’s comprehensive stormwater management program for the next 25 years, “Green City, Clean Waters.” This plan has won national praise for its innovative approach to the water management issues raised by urban development because it relies on nature more than engineering to reduce storm water flows.
But what’s in it for you? Fruits and vegetables, if you so choose. Or a rooftop oasis where you can relax. Lower energy bills thanks to the added insulation of the soil. And lower maintenance costs in the long run.
Installing a green roof requires you to do some homework first. You will need to find out how much weight your roof can support and how its drainage system functions, for starters. The cost of the installation will vary depending on what type of green roof you choose; the accompanying pictures give examples of the most common types.
For more information about green roofs and to find an installer, visit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.
The Philadelphia Water Department also has information about green roofs and other stormwater management tools homeowners can use to reduce storm runoff, as well as the role these tools play in the city’s 25-year stormwater management plan. Visit the Green City, Clean Waters website for full details.