02 Feb Into the Future: Living Roofs
As science and technology grows and adapts, so too do the ways we design, shape and care for our homes. For decades now, we have been experiencing the emergence of the asphalt shingle as the dominant solution for residential roofing needs. In my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario and across North America, approximately 80% of residential houses have asphalt shingles.
So what’s next in the field of roofing solutions? The problem with asphalt shingles is that up until recently, they haven’t been exactly environmentally friendly. Old processing techniques embedded asbestos into the products, as well as the fact that hauling 2.2 billion pounds of asphalt shingles to the dump every single day across North America, isn’t exactly a good thing for our longterm well-being! There are some pretty interesting eco options available, but in the present term many of those products are still just too expensive for the average homeowner.
An interesting solution that has gained a real foothold within urban communities in particular is the concept of the living roof. In Toronto there are currently 444 rooftops and 196,000 square meters of green roof area. Globally, there are some absolutely stunning examples of aesthetically beautiful living roof space. Carl Sagan once said “Anybody can make the world a better place, simply by planting a tree”. It’s great to see some of the members of our global community taking his advice!
Of course, having a living roof isn’t always a bed of roses. There are some drawbacks. In particular, the upfront cost and the ease of doing repairs are two of the main issues. Currently a living roof installation can cost between $8-$40 per square foot and to do any leak repairs you must dig down to whatever the problem is. The most notable hinderance to ubiquity however, is the fact that for obvious reasons, living roofs can’t be installed on the average house because the way we design our attic space currently would not facilitate it. Maybe someday in the near future architectural drawings will adapt to a more modern option to facilitate more living roofs!
The future of roofing will adapt and grow along with the societies that require them. There are lots of possibilities both in terms of improving on existing products and coming up with completely new and modern solutions. In the end, the only thing that’s constant is change!
This blog is Part 3 of a 4 part series on roofing throughout the ages: 2 posts looking at the history of roofing and 2 posts looking into the future!
Into the Future: Living Roofs