A solidly engineered roof protects the home and can provide a space to add brilliant color and texture with flowering plants and succulent vegetables. Common in European cities, rooftop gardens are rising in popularity in the U.S. and across the First Coast.

Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, green roofs offer many eco-friendly benefits. They make home insulation more efficient because they reduce heating and cooling costs. Green roofs slow down and filter rainwater runoff, create a sound barrier in high traffic areas and provide a habitat for wildlife. They also provide a wonderful environment for plants, vegetables and herbs.

“There are very tangible benefits to green roofs,” says Kevin Songer, owner of MetroVerde, a green roof consulting firm. “As their value becomes more apparent, we’ll see a trend in residential green roofs going from a luxury to a necessity.”

While there are numerous opportunities for green roofs to thrive in Florida, there are also many challenges, says Songer. Homes in Florida are subject to the five H’s – hurricanes, hard freezes, high winds, heat and high humidity – elements that can damage a home’s roof.

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There is a common misperception that a green roof has to be installed on a flat surface. Technological advancements have resulted in lighter weight materials and improved attachment techniques so that a green roof may be installed over any surface including slopes or asphalt shingles.

Many do-it-yourself websites offer step-by-step instructions on how to install a green roof. Songer consults on many do-it-yourself projects and suggests “doing all the research you can” before the project begins. He also cautions about the importance of safety, and recommends those without experience hire a licensed contractor with experience in green roofs.

Check out Songer’s blog at kevinsonger.blogspot.com or visit MetroVedre at metroverde.net.