How to Turn Your Concrete Roof into a Green Oasis

Sponsor/Writer - Louann Moss

Approximately 63.4 percent of Americans own a home. If you bought your home, you most likely had no say in what type of roof it had. Asphalt is particularly popular in the U.S., due to its affordability and easy installation process, but concrete usage has risen in recent years—especially in urban environments.

Lumber may constitute 40 percent of building materials, but concrete is the most-used manmade material in the world. And it offers a significant number of benefits. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to design and build your home from scratch, or are in need of a new roof, here are a few reasons why you should make the switch to concrete.

It’s a Good Long-Term Investment

When you buy a home, it’s often for life. Therefore, you want to make sure the materials you use are going to last as long as you are, and concrete certainly fits the bill. It’s an incredibly durable material, capable of lasting for thousands of years, so it’s pretty much guaranteed to last longer than you need it to!

It’s Highly Impact-Resistant

Concrete is remarkably strong. The average mix stands at around 3,000 psi (pounds per square inch), but some mixes can reach up to 20,000 psi. This means that any and all weather conditions will be no match for your roof! If you live in an area that’s prone to severe storms—including high winds, heavy snow and piercing hail—concrete is the smartest choice.

It’s a Low-Maintenance Material 

Asphalt roofs are often in need of repair and maintenance. If shingles fall off or become damaged, they need to be replaced, or the entire roof may become compromised. On the other hand, concrete simply needs to be cleaned every once in a while. Though concrete roofs can accumulate dirt and debris, their structural integrity is never at risk.

Since it’s also extremely affordable (around $4 USD per square foot) and fire-resistant, it’s hard to argue with concrete roofing.

How to Create a Real Concrete Jungle

Though the advantages of concrete are numerous, we’ll admit that it isn’t necessarily the most attractive material for a roof. When you consider that the roof contracting industry is valued at approximately $46 billion USD, you’ll certainly have several other, more eye-catching and alluring options at your disposal. However, you can have your cake and eat it too, if you have a concrete roof!

Due to the durability of concrete, it’s possible to grow plants on top of it. That’s precisely what several developers in Chicago did with their residential apartment units.

EMME Chicago, a building in the West Loop, exemplifies just how green concrete can be. By incorporating gardens, parks, grassy rooftop decks and more into the complex’s design, architects have found a way to bridge the gap between nature and city life.

“This connection to a natural environment and how it makes people feel is becoming a really big thing in the world of architecture and design,” said Kelly Saito, managing partner at Gerding Edlen, Emme’s developer. “Chicago is a town known for its parks, but it’s also a city that is very, very dense and very, very large. So when we’re making these buildings where people are going to live and work, being able to create a connection to not just the outdoors, but to the natural environment—even if it’s in a small way—is really, really important.”

If you have a concrete roof, you can achieve the same connection, while eliminating the eyesore that concrete can present as. Before you know it, your roof will be a concrete jungle—literally.

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