Green Roofs…. A Swift review

Garden rooms and extensions can give you the perfect opportunity for you to take a step back and look at the impact that your building makes on the environment and how you can make a difference.

By using such effective construction materials as SIP panels, Swift buildings already make a great positive impact upon the insulation properties of your new space.  Furthermore, the heating system, LED lighting, effective glazing and a responsible attitude towards product-sourcing gives you confidence that you are minimising waste and maximising efficiency for your investment. But it is the roof that we would like to consider here, giving you some valuable information to consider.

What is the footprint of your new building going to cover when it is completed?  If lawn, flower beds or even waste ground is to be covered then changes are being made to the micro-environment in that area.  Any green vegetation or natural space that is removed will chip away at the earth’s balance.  OK… if you have an average sized extension or garden room nobody is going to accuse you of mass-deforestation, but here are some of the things that change when we install a building:

  • Habitats for wildlife (insects, worms, small mammals)
  • Rain-water drainage, especially in a storm when all of the roof’s water will be concentrated into one outlet.
  • Reduction in localised Chlorophyll (the Green part of plants) that is crucial to photosynthesis (the plants ability to use the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen)
  • Heat absorption and release from the roof surface

How much does this concern you?  As with most things, a balanced view is commendable and Swift will listen to your priorities and then offer you advice and information to help you make the very best decision.  Cost, building design, ecological advantages, etc…

Swift have found these to be the three most popular choices when people opt for a “Green Roof”

INTENSIVE GREEN ROOF: This is a fully committed approach with a substrate of at least 200mm. This will support a wide range of plant, shrub and small tree growth, together with the rich mix of wildlife.  Some key points to consider are:

  • The weight of this will demand significant strengthening of the roof support structure
  • The height of the building will be increased
  • Maintenance will be required
  • You will have provided a rich and ecologically sound environment
  • The initial financial investment will be high

EXTENSIVE GREEN ROOF: This is the more commonly seen sedum planted roof that normally adds around 100mm to the depth of your roof and is far simpler to include in the construction process and is virtually maintenance free.

  • Costs around £100.00 – £150 per square metre, fully installed
  • If roof height is limited by planning restrictions, then internal ceiling height will be reduced
  • Absorbs and holds some rainfall, reducing the run-off in heavy storms
  • Aids the cooling of the building in hot weather

ARTIFICIAL GREEN ROOF:  A much cheaper and faster way of softening the appearance of the roof of your new building, though it does have very limited eco-benefits.  Advances in synthetic grass production do mean that there are some very realistic materials now available.  The inclusion of varied tuft lengths and some authentic brown blades does make it hard to differentiate between a well tended lawn and an artificial surface.

Swift have found this to be a successful solution for clients who are working on a precise budget, and also for those who do not wish to compromise the internal ceiling height.  The application takes just a few hours and it does add a degree of control to water run-off in storms plus an additional layer of insulation.

  • Costs range from £30 – £50 per square metre, fully installed
  • Improves the appearance of the roof, especially important where it is directly overlooked
  • Wide range of appearances and tones that can be selected to suit existing lawns

Swift believe that they were the first Garden Room designer to introduce this option.  It has certainly added a depth of choice for their clients … something that has to be applauded.

The picture above shows this application at a garden training centre recently completed in the Lake District.  A neighbouring building was also covered in matching material.

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