Creating a green, living roof is not for the faint of heart, the weak of back, or those financially or technologically challenged. This is serious business, best left to trained professionals; when done right, however, such “artificial” landscapes can offer significant benefits for the larger environment that supports us and those creatures with whom we share this planet.
This is one of the first books published in the United States to cover the pros and cons so frankly and thoroughly. For every reason that might justify the expense and effort of a living roof (managing stormwater, prolonging a roof’s life, reducing energy costs, mitigating the urban heat island effect, creating wildlife habitat), there are at least as many risks that must be understood by the client/owner and planned for by the team responsible for the project. One of the first concerns is always with the climate, and the authors make the point that arid regions like the Southwest are the most challenging for green roofs. Fortunately, research continues in all parts of the country on the technology, appropriate plants, and management strategies for successful living roofs.
Edmund Snodgrass started the first green roof nursery in the US and is a horticultural consultant for green roofs nationwide. With his wife Lucie, he authored Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide (Timber Press, 2006), an excellent review of the kinds of plants that will survive—even thrive—on a rooftop. Together, these are the best textbooks the professional is likely to find on the subject, presenting realistic appraisals for the practice and potential of living roofs. They also provide valuable information for the activist who hopes to promote the changing of our urban rooftops into green spaces that contribute to our well-being.
Richard G Turner Jr, editor