In Europe, green roofs have been important tool in energy conservation and stormwater management. Now a “green roof” featuring a grid system of plants, bushes and shrubs is poised to help building owners achieve those results more efficiently.

European green roofs are generally complicated systems consisting of a waterproof membrane and drainage layer, insulation, root barriers, soil layers, wind erosion blanket and finally...plants.

Roy F. Weston, Inc. (West Chester, PA) and American Builders and Contractors Supply Co., Inc. (Beloit, WI)) recently unveiled a new green roof technology ideal for industrial, commercial and government facilities.

The technology—the GreenGrid(TM) System—quickly transforms a roof into an energy-efficient rooftop garden. The system is designed to help building owners and managers extend the life of the roofing system, manage skyrocketing heating and air conditioning costs and provide a new functionality for unused space.

During the summer months, the temperature of a conventional flat rooftop can soar up to 175 degrees F—hot enough to fry an egg. By contrast, a GreenGrid roof rarely will get hotter than 77 degrees F.

The modular system, made of recycled materials, can be installed without the need of specialized equipment. Installations, depending on roof size, can be completed in a few days to a few weeks.

"Green roofs offer a near term solution to maximize building efficiency while reducing urban air temperatures and pollution. We applaud the efforts of this team to produce a flexible green roof product that can make our cities more livable," said Christine Ervin, CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Energy savings are a key benefit of the system. A recent study by WESTON estimates that greening the rooftops of all city buildings in Chicago would result in nearly $100 million of annual energy savings. Peak electricity demand would be cut by 720 megawatts, which is the equivalent of several coal fired generating units.