A green or "living" roof can be many things: a thriving natural ecosystem, an insulating, waterproof cover to your property, a way to slash your energy bills and something rather wonderful to look at.
But did you know that a green roof can also be a fantastic home for solar panels? Both energy conserving and ultra-sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly, green roofs and solar panels are a match made in eco-heaven! Here we explain why:
Solar PV and green roofs:
While the green roof provides a range of benefits to the environment, such as increased biodiversity, thermal cooling and insulation, and an effective storm water management system, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels can complement these brilliantly, as they create a renewable energy source for the building. In addition, the evaporation produced by the expanse of plant-life on a green roof reduces the air temperature, allowing solar PV panels to work much more efficiently than those placed on a standard rooftop. Indeed, recent research carried out in Germany has shown that solar cells on a green roof had an output of 8% more than cells on a bitumen roof.
Solar thermal and green roofs:
When solar thermal technology is used to heat water on a green roof, positive benefits can follow for the ecosystem and its plant life. In particularly hot climates, the shade provided beneath the panels can be beneficial to the growth of new plants. As can the tubes used in the thermal system, which help to allow added moisture in the form of rainwater to pass into the ground and create lush vegetation.
Looking ahead, there is so much potential for green roof and solar technology to be incorporated into future architectural and building designs. Finding ways to include renewable energy sources into our building and construction projects remains high on the agendas of politicians, planners and environmentalists alike and solar panel technology has an important role to play. The advantages of green roofs in effectively managing storm water flow, on the other hand, could be an invaluable planning tool in our increasingly milder, wetter UK climate. Combining solar technology with the biodiversity and socio-environmental benefits of green roofs, then, would appear to be the ultimate eco match made in heaven!