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Choosing Between Green Roofs And Solar Panels for Your Green Home

Shutterstock Photo License - Lucas Eduardo Benetti
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More people than ever are shifting towards sustainable homes. In 2020, 29% of homes were rated as having net zero carbon footprints.

Choosing a home that is eco-friendly is very important. However, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. It is not just about aesthetics or saving nature. There are also some important functional benefits that will pay off all the investment. And that is important, too! It just wouldn’t make sense for a typical homeowner to spend hundreds of dollars for nothing!

There are a lot of eco-friendly amenities and features that need to be supported, which include things like green roofs and solar panels. One is a tiny garden on the roof filled with soil, plants, and everything else to grow them. The latter replaces the roofing tiles but provides a decent amount of energy savings on the side. Choosing between these two can be like choosing between oranges and apples. Ultimately, the best one always depends on who wants it and why.

You need to understand the benefits of both green roofs and solar panels before choosing the right one for you.

The Benefits of Green Roofs

Green roofs are layered gardens that can be decorated like a real one. They are, in fact, real gardens that need the same maintenance. As with other gardens, there are a lot of ways to make them eco-friendlier.

Depending on the plants grown, green roofs can be either low or high maintenance. The plants will need some regular cutting and pruning, keeping them from looking like wild grasses. Their value is largely measured in their aesthetics: beautiful gardens look nice, so beautiful green roofs should look just as nice.

On the utility side, green roofs provide great insulation during both summer and winter. The plants can absorb the sun’s heat more efficiently than ordinary roofing can ever do. And the soil prevents the warm sunlight from passing through and heating up the interior. It also serves to block the heat from escaping during the colder months. But while this does not replace a good heater, it does help save electricity from interior heating.

Now with all of these on the line, green roofs can be made for a far cheaper initial cost compared to solar panels. On average, a square foot of green roofing will start as low as $10. The price range increases based on how deep the soil needs to be, among other needs. Meanwhile, a solar panel installation will depend on the wattage they produce. 

Depending on where you are, a 10k-watt system can cost somewhere between $13K to $30K. Green roofs also last longer than solar panels. Unlike solar panels that start to lose efficiency after a decade and a half, green roofs can last longer than 40 years if the roofing materials underneath are well-protected from ultraviolet light.

Benefits of Solar Panels

On the other hand, solar panels offer a different kind of benefit compared to green roofs. While they do get more expensive due to the initial cost, solar panels have a better ROI. For instance, the average homeowner can get back their money’s worth in energy savings in over a decade and a half. In contrast, green roofs take up to 27 years before they can get to 100% ROI. The global market for solar panels is projected to be worth over $176 billion by 2027.

And when they do break down, solar panels can be much easier to replace, as well. A single panel can be removed just like a piece of roofing tile and changed with a working one in its place. The panels are attached to each other in series, making it easy to put the next one in there. They are, in a way, made to be a modular set.

Further, solar panels can be scaled based on electrical power. While a few panels and a battery can bring light to a bulb running for days, having plenty of powerful panels can run refrigerators or even electric car chargers! The best systems can even decrease the Tesla charging time of your personal electric vehicle (EV) with all of their power.

How About Both?

While both can have different benefits and drawbacks, you could also put them together to maximize the upsides. A biosolar green roof is one with both greenery and solar panels. The panels are angled so sunlight can enter underneath where plants could grow. 

When used right, a biosolar green roof can help save energy while keeping the sun and cold from affecting the temperature inside. This second effect further saves more energy, making it far more efficient than just having solar panels on the roof. However, this does come with a bigger initial cost. This kind of roof will need as much money as installing a regular green roof, plus whatever is needed for installing a basic solar panel roofing system.

In the end, choosing a good eco-friendly roof depends on the budget, maintenance, and the expected benefits. Green roofs may be cheaper, but solar panels can get back the initial cost much faster. They also have different looks which homeowners may prefer over the other.

Chris Jackson is an experienced Business Development Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the construction industry. He is currently employed by Best Access Doors, an access door supplier in the US and Canada, and has been working for the company for more than 12 years now. His area of expertise is on Negotiation, Roofers, Sales, Project Estimation, and Facility Management (FM).

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