Green Roofs and Solar

Posted on September 17, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

I came across this video on CNN about Atlanta’s High Museum’s new green roof – one of the largest in the United States.

Green roofs have fascinated me for years. Commercial roof-tops across the country are most commonly finished and sealed with black tar. When direct summer sun hits these roofs, temps can often soar well past 150 degrees F. This leads to a greater need for building cooling, which in turn leads to an increase in the demand for power (of which coal is the most common source). These common roof-tops are also the largest contributor to the urban heat island effect.

Green roofs are surprisingly simple and their positive effects can be huge. They limit rainwater runoff, improve water quality, conserve energy, reduce the urban heat-island effect, extend the life of roofing materials underneath, and provide habitat for plants and animals.

But what’s even more interesting is the recent innovation in hybrid green / solar roofs. Just as it sounds, a hybrid roof combines roof-mounted solar power systems with a green roof. This combination is beneficial because the green roof can actually improve a solar system’s efficiency.

As the green roof cools ambient temperatures around the solar panels, the solar panels are able to stay cooler and function better. So not only can the green roof lead to improved efficiency of the panels, but a green roof also helps a building conserve energy (especially in cooling), thus reducing the workload for the solar system.

If you are interested in learning more about green roofs, check out: http://www.dcgreenworks.org/

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