Put a Bit of the Great Outdoors Over Your Head With a Green Roof

May 6, 2016 | By

Got a green thumb? How about a green roof?

Driven in large part by their ability to help municipalities manage rain runoff, green roofs have taken off in recent years as features of commercial and public buildings. But there’s no reason individual homeowners can’t enjoy the benefits, practical and otherwise, of having their own overhead gardens.

In addition to reducing and filtering runoff, green roofs offer benefits such as reduced air pollution and improved building insulation leading to lower heating and cooling costs. Perhaps less tangible but no less important, they look cool. After all, what’s more interesting—a house covered in black asphalt shingles or topped with flowers?

A Buyer’s Delight

But despite the potential benefits, residential green roofs still aren’t particularly widespread, says Steve Goddard, a real estate agent in Manhattan Beach, CA. While in high-density urban neighborhoods they might be the only opportunity for a homeowner to incorporate a bit of green, in most places “the kind of things you would do on the roof, people just do in their yard, because it’s simpler and cheaper,” he notes.

That said, in his business Goddard does come across homes with green roofs from time to time, especially in the denser urban neighborhoods like those in downtown Los Angeles.

These roofs aren’t typically a feature buyers set out looking for explicitly, Goddard says, but, he notes, they tend to like them when they come across them.

“It’s a nice thing—they go, ‘Wow, look at this,'” he says. “If you have it up there, and you have a watering system, everyone would love to grow some herbs or strawberries or whatever you can up there.”

Will a Green Roof Cost Some ‘Green’?

Will buyers pay a premium for that privilege? Probably not, Goddard says. On the other hand, recent research indicates that among the green features that contribute the most to a higher home value are those that, like green roofs, save homeowners money on their utility bills.

A study led by University of Texas at San Antonio professor Thomas Thomson and published last year in The Appraisal Journal looked at some 66,000 home sales over the course of five years in the San Antonio region to tease out what environmentally friendly amenities homebuyers most valued.

While houses with a green designation like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification received only a modest bump in sales price, homes with energy-efficient features such as insulated windows sold for nearly 6 percent more than similar homes without them.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the cost of installing a green roof typically runs between $10 and $25 per square foot with annual maintenance costs running between 75 cents and $1.50 per square foot.

That’s higher than a conventional roof, but, the agency notes, reduced energy and storm water management costs can help close the price gap. Additionally, green roofs typically last longer than conventional ones.

And besides, imagine cooking with fresh tomatoes and basil from your rooftop. Can you really put a price on that?




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