This green roof stuff is getting out of hand.

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In an article on – Building Science Insights – Seeing Red Over Green Roofs – Joseph Lstiburek talks about how Building Green is a huge misnomer…and that it is a sensitive subject with many builders.

“It is dumb to do a green roof to save energy. If dirt were energy efficient, we would call it insulation and put it in walls. It is just dirt. Insulation is better insulation than dirt. That is why we call it insulation. And, covering a roof with grass to deal with solar gain is also pretty dumb when you have something much more effective and less expensive available called a reflective membrane.”He goes on to say, “Besides, to keep the green roof green you have to water it. Perhaps that is why some folks now call them “vegetative roofs.” If energy is your deal, add more insulation to your roof and install a reflective membrane and be done. It works better and costs less than adding dirt and grass. Tastes great, less filling. Now, you don’t need a goat to keep the grass in check. It gets complicated figuring out what to do with the goat.

Let’s go back to the water stuff and green roofs. Folks also like green roofs because you can store water in them; you can control the rain run-off from your building. You’re kidding, right? Storing rainwater on top of your building? Are you on crack? The whole point is to get the rain off of your roof, which is why we slope them.

And let’s not forget the wildlife habitat argument. Get serious. You want to do something for birds? Easy, use less glass.

That green roofs have, up to now, been driven by the need for a checklist point is bemusing, but ultimately harmless. If you are so unsure of your ability as an architect or designer that you need to use someone else’s arbitrary and pretty capricious checklist to be part of some silly club, knock yourself out. To help these types of folks out, please note that the bike rack and shower checklist points make more sense; at least they do not cost you a bucketful of money.

So what has got my goat, so to speak? Even worse than a checklist point, which you can ignore because it typically isn’t a legal requirement, some cities now require green roofs via bylaw—which is a legal requirement—and that makes me see red. My hometown for one. How did that happen?”

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