17 Comment

  • Vonstallin

    I see a nice plot they can burrie my ashes.

  • i wish there was a company that did cheap green roof installs. I dont need mine to be pretty. I just want to curb the water runoff and insulate my house. If i could get my flat 500 sq foot roof done for under 4k I would pony up. but from what i hear people are shelling out 20k for the bragging rights to this bit of urban cool.

  • i know the owner of canopy quite well…she does fantastic work and you DEFINITELY get your money’s worth. pony up suckas!

  • i wonder how these are treated by historic districts – can they be visible from the street? anyone know?

  • Anonymous – WASA offers $3500 grants for greenroofs. You can ask Sarah if you are a candidate. Don’t assume it’s too costly a project. There are modular systems as well as intensve (planted) ones like this. If you’re serious, you should ask Sarah at canopy. BTW, it’s not that great an insulator.

  • Thanks for this one! Nice to see such approaches taking root! hahaha I wish I had one, plus a nice green wall to help with privacy from neighbors.

  • eric, the historic district did not care. only limitation was on any visible railing, but even that limitation was very flexible. the less visible from the street, the less they care. it was approved without any drama.

  • eric in ledroit- The visibility of the plant beds is largely dependent upon how tall the building is and how high the parapet is. Most gardens tend to be fairly low in profile, because tall plants need deeper soil beds to support their equally tall root structure, and most existing buildings can’t support the weight of that much soil.

    The National Conference of State Historic Preservation Offices has some information on their website about incorporating green roofs and sustainable initiatives into the fabric of historic integrity:


  • CAHBF, how much additional structural support was added to cope with the increased weight? What percentage of the final cost would you attribute to that work?

    Thanks in advance.

  • ian, our roof is 12″ thick concrete, so reinforcing wasn’t a concern. We did have to pay to have the slab X-rayed to be sure of the load. This is also why we can have trees and up to 12 inches of soil (most greenroofs in DC have 4 inches of soil I think). I’m fairly sure Sarah said that most of their projects on DC rowhouses didn’t require much reinforcement for a standard greenroof.

  • not to be an echo- but yeah, check out the WASA grant, and maybe from Casey Trees or something? There’s def. green grant money out there to be had — it saves the city some serious cash to curb stormwater runoff.

  • alligator bush!

  • Though a couple years down the road, I would like to do my front porch roof as green (a simple green). I have to replace it anyway, and I would like to look out my bedroom windows and not see asphalt or tar. I am hoping green roofs will be broken in and popular enough by that time that approval will be easy. I imagine a front porch roof may have issues since it can be seen from the windows of neighbors. Does anyone know if someone has tried one yet?

  • Hey all –

    I’m the project manager at DC Greenworks, a local 501c3 non-profit who administers the District Department of he Environment subsidy. The long and short of that program is that you can get $5 per square foot for your green roof. It is the most aggressive grant/subsidy program in the country and put a substantial dent in the cost of installing a green roof. More details can be found at our website ( http://www.dcgreenworks.org ). See the DDOE Subsidy Program Link in particular.

    We also built, design, and install green roofs. (Both Criston and Sarah from Canopy are former DCG folks and close current cohorts, btw.) One of the great things we do is get the homeowners involved in their projects to both develop a more intimate knowledge of the system, and to lower the labor costs. Between the subsidy and personal involvement, I’m seeing costs regularly reduced to the $8 per square foot figure you’re asking about.

    One final note regarding modular systems: be careful with looking to these to provide the full benefits of a well designed and installed custom system. Not only can they leave exposure of the roof membrane as an issue, but they can also be very costly when compared to an integrated solution.


  • Hey CAHBF, I agree that green roofs can have limited insulative capacity (although they are a slight upgrade over a simple membrane roof). So they aren’t doing much to keep your house warm in the winter. Summers are a different story. Every study that I have seen shows that green roofs substantially limit heat absorption by the roof assembly, which translates into significant reductions in energy savings related to cooling. One of the more famous studies is of the green roof on Chicago’s City Hall. The study showed that the green roof temperature in August was over 50 degrees Fahrenheit lower than a nearby conventional asphalt roof. This equated to an annual 10 to 15 percent decrease in cooling costs. It should also be noted that keeping the roof membrane cool also serves to extend the life of the roof. Some estimates suggest that a green roof could more than double your roof life. All this of course is above and beyond the stormwater management, air quality, urban heat island, and aesthetic benefits provided by green roofs. If you’ve seen some conflicting studies, I would certainly be interested in seeing them.

  • Brian. My experience is that the roof slows the heating of the concrete slab itself on hot days. You’re right, it insulates better in summer than in winter for sure. It’s hard for us to compare month to month bills because we travel so much for work. But one other thing is that there is a 3″ foam insulation layer as well which helps, I’m sure. (Construction pics, if youre interested, which show all the layers: http:[email protected]/sets/72157605854175233/

    Our understanding is that it doubles the roof life.

  • i was the head of design and installation on this project.
    the homeowners were intimately involved throughout the whole process,
    as we encourage with all our projects.
    their vision was the seed of this project,
    we simply helped them realize it.

    this project is a wonderful display of greenroofs and effective use of space.
    the structure was unique and had endless possibilities.

    both sarah and i have been involved in the greenroofing industry for over 5 years.
    we have extensive experience in design, construction and horticulture
    that is something that CANOPY has over many greenroof outfits in the nation.

    we have designed and installed greenroofs of 50 to over 8000 sqft.
    from simple to elaborate
    front porches to government buildings.
    in DC, Ireland/UK, even on cruise ships.

    cost is always a variable that can be tailored.
    subsidies like the one being disbursed by dcgreenworks help.
    which is available to all who qualify,
    it does not require a specific designer/installer.

    please feel free to comment and ask any questions to us directly.
    to discuss this project or maybe your project.
    [email protected]

    we can help you put a plant anywhere.

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