Notice those green kinds of stuff growing on some commercial roofs in Toronto ON? They’re a beautiful sight, actually, for we all have been accustomed to the lack of nature in urban settings. We call them green roofs. Other names for them include “roof gardens” or “living roofs.”

Whether you’re about to buy a building in Toronto for business or already have one, perhaps you would like to know what green roofs do. What are their benefits or drawbacks?

We prepared this guide to share with you some interesting green roof facts. Through understanding, hopefully, you get to decide whether you want a green roof or not.

If you haven’t yet, go check out our previous in-depth guide to green roofing systems.

Green Roof Meaning and History

Here’s the meaning of green roof. A green roof refers to the space on top of a flat roof where trees and plants grow. Beneath that vegetation is a waterproofing membrane that prevents ponding and moisture issues. This waterproofing membrane can take the form of EPDM rubber roofing, TPO, or PVC.

Read: Top Flat Roofing Systems for Commercial Buildings

cartoon image of hanging gardens of babylon

This image depicts the world-famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Although they no longer exist, they’re an example of the oldest green roofing systems.

In case you’re wondering, green roofs were already around since the ancient times. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was believed that they existed before Christ was born.

Types of Green Roofs

These eco-roofs come in three different types depending on a building owner’s preference. Here are those green roofing types:

  • Extensive Green Roofs – Such green roofs are thinner, lightweight, and require less maintenance. Common plants include sedums, mosses, herbs, and succulents.
  • Intensive Green Roofs – These green roofing systems feature trees and plants for farming. The overall depth of intensive roofs could reach over 24 inches. They require more maintenance and are expensive to build.
  • Semi-Intensive Green Roofs – These green roofs feature herbs, flowers, and shrubs. They require less deep soil than intensive green roofs and are more expensive than extensive green roofs.

Green Roof Advantages and Disadvantages

We already covered green roof meaning and the three types of green roofs. Up next, let’s discuss green roofs pros and cons. Why should you get them for your Toronto ON building? What possible drawbacks could you encounter?


1. Support wildlife

The plants and trees that thrive on a green roof serve as perfect habitats for different animals depending on what you grow. For example, they attract birds, butterflies, bees, and beetles. You increase biodiversity in an urban environment if you build a green roof. Indeed, green roofs promote conservation which makes them good for the planet.

2. Keep everyone cool and reduce your building’s energy costs

Many flat roofs without plants on them tend to be hotter. They absorb the heat of the sun. Heat then transfers below the roof, placing more demand on air conditioning systems.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, green roofs lower energy demand by acting as insulation. They keep the surrounding air cooler through the process of evapotranspiration. Because buildings become cooler, inhabitants or office personnel experience better indoor comfort. Their mood, health, and productivity all improve.

3. Improve stormwater management

glass surface showing rain droplets

Green roofs slow the flow of water over the ground surfaces of cities. This is because plants absorb water and return them to the atmosphere.

Stormwater runoff presents a problem to the environment. Runoff carries pollutants to our rivers and lakes. Aside from knowing green roof meaning, it’s interesting to note that green roofs help reduce stormwater runoff.

Plants over a flat roof absorb rainwater and hold it for a longer period of time. They slow down the flow of water and bring them back to the atmosphere through evaporation.

4. Cleanse the air

Living roofs make a huge difference in the quality of the air we breathe. This is especially true if you live in an urban, densely populated area. Plants that grow on a green roof reduce carbon dioxide in the air. They produce oxygen which improves our mental alertness and help us live a healthier life overall.

5. Enhance aesthetic appeal

Lastly, don’t neglect the fact that green roofs make buildings beautiful to look at. Just remember the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. They bring natural beauty, creating a positive impression of your business.

Some building owners would even add benches and tables on their green roofs. These would make the roofs double as meeting spaces and relaxation areas for employees.

Read More: Are Green Roofs Good for the Environment?


1. Need periodic landscape maintenance

Typical flat roofing systems differ from green roofs in terms of maintenance. With green roofs, not only do you trim plants and remove unwanted weeds, but you also make sure that the membrane beneath the vegetation stays damage-free. It’s not enough to know green roof meaning. Paying attention to maintenance is extremely important.

2. Spend more money upfront

money hanging on trees

Which will cost you more? Green roofs, for sure. But while they cost you more money upfront, you benefit over the long term.

If cost-effectiveness tops your list of roofing criteria, you may not like the costs associated with green roofing installation. The costs start from $15 per square foot. They say that green roofs will cost thousands more than regular membranes.

However, think about the long-term savings you gain. While upfront costs are high, you save on energy. Furthermore, you won’t have to keep on replacing your roof. The plants will protect the roofing membrane from the heat of the sun.

3. Limited plant choice

Building owners who choose extensive green roofs don’t get a lot of choices. Thicker soil of intensive roofs can support a wide variety of plants while thinner soil doesn’t. You will have to stick with sedums and mosses should you choose an extensive roof type.

Interested? We Install Green Roofing Systems

Skyluxe Roofing & Sheet Metal hopes that you learned green roof meaning and its important pros and cons. Thinking of building one soon? Choose our team to do the work for you. We specialize in green flat roofing for Toronto ON buildings. Check out our project portfolio.

Choose Skyluxe Roofing & Sheet Metal, the best roofing company you’ll find. We’re a commercial and industrial company that guarantees quality and beautiful roofs. We want you to succeed in business through our top roofing solutions.