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What is a Green Roof?

Last Updated Mar 7, 2017 · Written by Rob Schneider

The green roof is an idea whose time has come to Australia. What is a green roof? Basically, green roof technology is an emerging sustainable technology that utilises roof areas for growing plants. The City of Sydney is the first Australian city to officially launch a green roofs and walls policy.


Installing rooftop gardens has more benefits than meet the untrained eye. Some of the main benefits include:

  1.     Thermal insulation
  2.     Minimising water run-off
  3.     Reduction of a city's heat-island effect
  4.     Production of clean, renewable energy
  5.     Collection and supply of rainwater
  6.     Carbon emission reduction through minimising the need for air conditioning and heating

Anatomy of a Green Roof

A well-designed green roof has a number of components. Essential components include, in order of installation:

  1.     A root protection layer,
  2.     A waterproof membrane,
  3.     A drainage layer,
  4.     A soil layer
  5.     Vegetation

Properly installed by skilled technicians, a green roof can be virtually self-sustaining. When water is needed, an automatic irrigation system can supply it. The roof area can be used as a park or rooftop garden restaurant. If a green roof is not designed to be a public space, it still provides enormous environmental benefits. With the addition of other green technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, wind turbines and/or water tanks, it can provide even greater benefits.

Green Residences

Green roof technology hasn't as yet caught on in residential architecture, but it may be only a matter of time before green roofs become more common in Australia's residential landscape. Home builders are already showing interest and using other elements of green technology in their new home designs and renovations. Solar panels, for example, are far more common today than they were in the past.


Australians are now embracing passive solar home design, installing rainwater tanks, growing vertical gardens to provide shade and insulation and taking numerous other steps to reduce their dependence on greenhouse gas emitting energy supplies. The beauty of adding a green roof or wall to your property, is that it is not just a practical solution; it is a beautiful solution, too.



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