Painting roofs white is an easy way to reflect heat and save costs in the summer. But even better is planting gardens on rooftops, bringing the green back to the urban jungle. The gardens help insulate buildings in the winter and soak up storm water, reducing water pollution from urban runoff.
Over 400 rooftops in Portland Or., have gone green and nearly as many are turning green in Bellingham, Wash. Across California and from Kankakee, Ill., to New York City, roofs designed to take advantage of the elements and not just protect interiors are gaining in popularity. And while environmental benefits are a bonus, the driving reason behind the switch to green are the economic incentives.
Building a green roof today, can be done on the cheap, for as little as $8 to $12 a square foot compared to the average $15.75 per square foot for conventional rooftops. And because the savings go into building a product that is itself protected from the sun with plants, the roofs last longer.