The summer swelter is coming very soon and inner city temperatures show no signs of decreasing. No matter how many iced teas we drink or pools we jump into, it seems nothing will save us from the oppressive heat. There is an explanation for these harsh heat waves that bake us on the asphalt and, thankfully, a solution!
Standard tar and shingle roofs, whether flat or pitched, get pounded by sunlight all day, and since the darker materials absorb so much of the radiant heat, they can become hotter than the surrounding air—bless our roofing crews, wherever they are. Tightly packed urban sprawls and metropolitan areas have a measured increase in temperature causing a “heat island” to form. This isn’t an island you want to brag to your friends about vacationing at though; it has more negative impacts on your daily life than that sunburn and margarita hangover. According to the EPA, the annual average air temperature can be 1-3°F warmer than surrounding suburban or rural areas and with so much sunlight absorption throughout the day, and no relief comes in the evening either. Evening temperatures can be 22°F than early afternoon temperatures which means more post-dinner ice cream to cool off, but also higher air conditioning costs, air pollution, energy consumption, and heat-related deaths. That is not a fair trade-off, no matter how delicious a Dreamsicle is.
Take a page from Andrew Henry and think about starting a roof garden build on your own. With thorough research and planning, your design can cut down on sweat from mistakes as well as from the furnace outside your door. You’ll appreciate the hot savings, both financial and environmental, and have an incredible green escape for when the freezer is empty, and the multiple box fans offer no relief.
Greenscape Geeks is a central Indiana landscape architecture and landscape design, construction, and lawn maintenance company, serving Indianapolis (including Meridian Kessler, Herron Morton, Williams Creek, and Irvington), Carmel, Noblesville, Fishers, and Zionsville.
Roof Garden sources:
Greenscape Geeks, LLC
https://www.epa.gov/heat-islands – Environmental Protection Agency
https://tinyurl.com/y5rkjlyk – Gardening Know-How
Photos clockwise from top left: A scenic view along the New York High Line Park–photo credit Greenscape Geeks, maximum relaxation with pots and hammock–image © Roof Maker, Clean lines and plenty of room to walk–image © Port and Quarter, mix and match–image © Bob Vila, a wild meadow on a walk-up–image © 1001 Gardens